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and Other Stories 




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The mental features discoursed of as the analytical are, in 
themselves, but little susceptible of analysis. We appreciate 
them only in their effects. We know of them, among other 
things, that they are always to their possessor, when inordi- 
nately possessed, a source of the liveliest enjoyment. As the 
strong man exults in his physical ability, delighting in such 
exercises as call his muscles into action, so glories the an- 
alyst in that moral activity which disentangles . He derives 
pleasure from even the most trivial occupations bringing 
his talent into play. He is fond of enigmas, of conun- 
drums, of hieroglyphics; exhibiting in his solutions of 
each a degree of acumen which appears to the ordinary 
apprehension preternatural. His results, brought about 
by the very soul and essence of method, have, in truth, the 
whole air of intuition. 

The faculty of re-solution is possibly much invigorated 
by mathematical study, and especially by that highest 
branch of it which, unjustly, and merely on account of its 
retrograde operations, has been called, as if par excellence, 
analysis. Yet to calculate is not in itself to analyze. A 
chess-player, for example, does the one without effort at 
the other. It follows that the game of chess, in its effects 
upon mental character, is greatly misunderstood. I am 
not now writing a treatise, but simply prefacing a some- 




what peculiar narrative by observations very much at 
random; I will therefore take occasion to assert that the 
higher powers of the reflective intellect are more decidedly 
and more usefully tasked by the unostentatious game of 
draughts than by all the elaborate frivolity of chess. In 
this latter, where the pieces have different and bizarre 
motions, with various and variable values, what is only 
complex is mistaken (a not unusual error) for what is 
profound. The attention is here called powerfully into 
play. If it flag for an instant, an oversight is committed, 
resulting in injury or defeat. The possible moves being 
not only manifold but involute, the chances of such over- 
sights are multiplied; and in nine cases out of ten it is 
the more concentrative rather than the more acute player 
who conquers. In draughts, on the contrary, where the 
moves are unique and have but little variation, the prob- 
abilities of inadvertence are diminished, and the mere at- 
tention being left comparatively unemployed, what advan- 
tages are obtained by either party are obtained by superior 
acumen. To be less abstract — let us suppose a game of 
draughts where the pieces are reduced to four kings, and 
where, of course, no oversight is to be expected. It is ob- 
vious that here the victory can be decided (the players be- 
ing at all equal) only by some recherche movement, the 
the result of some strong exertion of the intellect. De- 
prived of ordinary resources, the analyst throws himself 
into the spirit of his opponent, identifies himself there- 
with, and not un frequently sees thus, at a glance, the sole 
methods (sometimes indeed absurdly simple ones) by 
which he may seduce into error or hurry into miscalcula- 

Whist has long been noted for its influence upon what 
is termed the calculating power; and men of the highest 
order of intellect have been known to take an apparently 
unaccountable delight in it, while eschewing chess as 
frivolous. Beyond doubt there is nothing of a similar 



nature so greatly tasking the faculty of analysis. The 
best chess-player in Christendom may be little more than 
the best player of chess; but proficiency in whist implies 
capacity for success in all those more important under- 
takings where mind struggles with mind. When I say 
proficiency, I mean that perfection in the game which in- 
cludes a comprehension of all the sources whence legiti- 
mate advantage may be derived. These are not only 
manifold but multiform, and lie frequently among re- 
cesses of thought altogether inaccessible to the ordinary 
understanding. To observe attentively is to remember dis- 
tinctly ; and, so far, the concentrative chess-player will do 
very well at whist; while the rules of Hoyle (themselves 
based upon the mere mechanism of the game) are suffi- 
ciently and generally comprehensible. Thus to have a 
retentive memory, and to proceed by “the book,” are 
points commonly regarded as the sum total of good play^ 
ing. But it is in matters beyond the limits of mere rule 
that the skill of the analyst is evinced. He makes, in 
silence, a host of observations and inferences. So, per- 
haps, do his companions ; and the difference in the extent 
of the information obtained lies not so much in the 
validity of the inference as in the quality of the observa- 
tion. The necessary knowledge is that of what to observe. 
Our player confines himself not at all; nor, because the 
game is the object, does he reject deductions from things 
external to the game. He examines the countenance of 
his partner, comparing it carefully with that of each of 
his opponents. He considers the mode of assorting the 
cards in each hand ; often counting trump by trump, and 
honor by honor, through the glances bestowed by their 
holders upon each. He notes every variation of face as 
the play progresses, gathering a fund of thought from the 
differences in the expression of certainty, of surprise, of 
triumph, or of chagrin. From the manner of gathering 
up a trick he judges whether the person taking it can 



make another in the suit. He recognizes what is played 
through feint, by the air with which it is thrown upon 
the table. A casual or inadvertent word; the accidental 
dropping or turning of a card, with the accompanying 
anxiety or carelessness in regard to its concealment; the 
counting of the tricks, with the order of their arrange- 
ment; embarrassment, hesitation, eagerness or trepida- 
tion — all afford, to his apparently intuitive perception, 
indications of the true state of affairs. The first two or 
three rounds having been played, he is in full possession 
of the contents of each hand, and thenceforward puts 
down his cards with as absolute a precision of purpose as 
if the rest of the party had turned outward the faces of 
their own. 

The analytical power should not be confounded with 
simple ingenuity; for while the analyst is necessarily in- 
genious, the ingenious man is often remarkably incapable 
of analysis. The constructive or combining power, by 
which ingenuity is usually manifested, and to which the 
phrenologists (I believe erroneously) have assigned a 
separate organ, supposing it a primitive faculty, has been 
so frequently seen in those whose intellect bordered other- 
wise upon idiocy, as to have attracted general observation 
among writers on morals. Between ingenuity and the 
analytic ability there exists a difference far greater, in- 
deed, than that between the fancy and the imagination, but 
of a character very strictly analogous. It will be found, 
in fact, that the ingenious are always fanciful, and the 
truly imaginative never otherwise than analytic. 

The narrative which follows will appear to the reader 
somewhat in the light of a commentary upon the proposi- 
tions just advanced. 

Residing in Paris during the spring and part of the 
summer of 18 — , I there became acquainted with a Mon- 
sieur C. Auguste Dupin. This young gentleman was of 
an excellent — indeed of an illustrious family, but, by a 



variety of untoward events, had been reduced to such 
poverty that the energy of his character succumbed be- 
neath it, and he ceased to bestir himself in the world, or 
to care for the retrieval of his fortunes. By courtesy of 
his creditors, there still remained in his possession a small 
remnant of his patrimony; and upon the income arising 
from this, he managed by means of a rigorous economy to 
procure the necessaries of life, without troubling himself 
about its superfluities. Books, indeed, were his sole 
luxuries, and in Paris these are easily obtained. 

Our first meeting was at an obscure library in the Rue 
Montmartre, where the accident of our both being in 
search of the same very rare and very remarkable volume 
brought us into closer communion. We saw each other 
again and again. I was deeply interested in the little 
family history which he detailed to me with all that candor 
which a Frenchman indulges whenever mere self is his 
theme. I was astonished, too, at the vast extent of his 
reading; and, above all, I felt my soul enkindled within 
me by the wild fervor and the vivid freshness of his 
imagination. Seeking in Paris the objects I then sought, 
I felt that the society of such a man would be to me a 
treasure beyond price; and this feeling I frankly confided 
to him. It was at length arranged that we should live to- 
gether during my stay in the city ; and as my worldly cir- 
cumstances were somewhat less embarrassed than his 
own, I was permitted to be at the expense of renting and 
furnishing, in a style which suited the rather fantastic 
gloom of our common temper, a time-eaten and grotesque 
mansion, long deserted through superstitions into which 
we did not inquire, and tottering to its fall in a retired and 
desolate portion of the Faubourg St. Germain. 

Had the routine of our life at this place been known to 
the world, we should have been regarded as madmen — - 
although, perhaps, as madmen of a harmless nature. Our 
seclusion was perfect. We admitted no visitors. Indeed, 



the locality of our retirement had been carefully kept a 
secret from my own former associates; and it had been 
many years since Dupin had ceased to know or be known 
in Paris. We existed within ourselves alone. 

It was a freak of fancy in my friend (for what else 
shall I call it?) to be enamored of the Night for her own 
sake; and into this bizarrerie, as into all his others, I 
quietly fell; giving myself up to his wild whims with a 
perfect abandon . The sable divinity would not herself 
dwell with us always ; but we could counterfeit her pres- 
ence. At the first dawn of the morning we closed all 
the massive shutters of our old building; lighting a couple 
of tapers which, strongly perfumed, threw out only the 
ghastliest and feeblest of rays. By the aid of these we 
then busied our souls in dreams — reading, writing, or con- 
versing, until warned by the clock of the advent of the 
true Darkness. Then we sallied forth into the streets, 
ann in arm, continuing the topics of the day, or roaming 
far and wide until a late hour, seeking, amid the wild 
lights and shadows of the populous city, that infinity of 
mental excitement which quiet observation can afford. 

At such times I could not help remarking and admir- 
ing (although from his rich ideality I had been prepared 
to expect it) a peculiar analytic ability in Dupin. He 
seemed, too, to take an eager delight in its exercise — if 
not exactly in its display — and did not hesitate to confess 
the pleasure thus derived. He boasted to me, with a low 
chuckling laugh, that most men, in respect to himself, 
wore windows in their bosoms, and was wont to follow 
up such assertions by direct and very startling proofs of 
his intimate knowledge of my own. His manner at these 
moments was frigid and abstract; his eyes were vacant 
in expression; while his voice, usually a rich tenor, rose 
into a treble which would have sounded petulantly but for 
the deliberateness and entire distinctness of the enuncia- 
tion. Observing him in these moods, I often dwelt medi- 



tatively upon the old philosophy of the Bi-Part Soul, and 
amused myself with the fancy of a double Dupin — the 
creative and the resolvent. 

Let it not be supposed from what I have just said that 
I am detailing any mystery or penning any romance. 
What I have described in the Frenchman was merely the 
result of an excited or perhaps of a diseased intelligence. 
But of the character of his remarks at the periods in ques- 
tion an example will best convey the idea. 

We were strolling one night down a long dirty street, 
in the vicinity of the Palais Royal. Being both apparently 
occupied with thought, neither of us had spoken a syllable 
for fifteen minutes at least. All at once Dupin broke 
forth with these words : 

“He is a very little fellow, that's true, and would do bet- 
ter for the Theatre des VarietesT 

“There can be no doubt of that,” I replied unwittingly, 
and not at first observing (so much had I been absorbed 
in reflection) the extraordinary manner in which the 
speaker had chimed in with my meditations. In an in- 
stant afterwards I recollected myself, and my astonish- 
ment was profound. 

“Dupin,” said I gravely, “this is beyond my compre- 
hension. I do not hesitate to say that I am amazed, and 
can scarcely credit my senses. How was it possible you 

should know I was thinking of ?” Here I paused, to 

ascertain beyond a doubt whether he really knew of whom 
I thought. 

“ of Chantilly,” said he, “why do you pause? You 

were remarking to yourself that his diminutive figure un- 
fitted him for tragedy.” 

This was precisely what had formed the subject of my 
reflections. Chantilly was a quondam cobbler of the Rue 
St. Denis, who, becoming stage-mad, had attempted the 
role of Xerxes, in Crebillon's tragedy so-called, and been 
notoriously pasquinaded for his pains. 



“Tell me, for Heaven’s sake,” I exclaimed, “the method 
— if method there is — by which you have been enabled to 
fathom my soul in this matter.” In fact I was even more 
startled than I would have been willing to express. 

“It was the fruiterer,” replied my friend, “who brought 
you to the conclusion that the mender of soles was not of 
sufficient height for Xerxes et id genus omne .” 

“The fruiterer! — you astonish me — I know no fruiterer 

“The man who ran up against you as we entered the 
street — it may have been fifteen minutes ago.” 

I now remembered that, in fact, a fruiterer, carrying 
upon his head a large basket of apples, had nearly thrown 

me down by accident as we passed from the Rue C 

into the thoroughfare where we stood ; but what this had 
to do with Chantilly I could not possibly understand. 

There was not a particle of charlatanerie about Dupin. 
“I will explain,” he said, “and that you may comprehend 
all clearly, we will first retrace the course of your medita- 
tions from the moment in which I spoke to you until that 
of the rencontre with the fruiterer in question. The larger 
links of the chain run thus — Chantilly, Orion, Dr. Nichols, 
Epicurus, Stereotomy, the street stones, the fruiterer.” 
There are few persons who have not at some period of 
their lives amused themselves in retracing the steps by 
which particular conclusions of their own minds have 
been attained. The occupation is often full of interest; 
and he who attempts it for the first time is astonished by 
the apparently illimitable distance and incoherence be- 
tween the starting-point and the goal. What then must 
have been my amazement when I heard the Frenchman 
speak what he had just spoken, and when I could not help 
acknowledging that he had spoken the truth. He con- 
tinued : 

“We had been talking of horses, if I remember aright, 
just before leaving the Rue C . This was the last 



subject we discussed. As we crossed into this street, a 
fruiterer, with a large basket upon his head, brushing 
quickly past us, thrust you upon a pile of paving-stones 
collected at a spot where the causeway is undergoing re- 
pair. You stepped upon one of the loose fragments, 
slipped, slightly sprained your ankle, appeared vexed or 
sulky, muttered a few words, turned to look at the pile, 
and then proceeded in silence. I was not particularly at- 
tentive to what you did ; but observation has become with 
me, of late, a species of necessity. 

“You kept your eyes upon the ground — glancing, with 
a petulant expression, at the holes and ruts in the pave- 
ment (so that I saw you were still thinking of the stones), 
until we reached the little alley called Lamartine, which 
has been paved, by way of experiment, with the over- 
lapping and riveted blocks. Here your countenance 
brightened up, and, perceiving your lips move, I could 
not doubt that you murmured the word ‘stereotomy,’ a 
term very affectedly applied to this species of pavement. 
I knew that you could not say to yourself ‘stereotomy’ 
without being brought to think of atomies, and thus 
of the theories of Epicurus ; and since, when we discussed 
this subject not very long ago, I mentioned to you how 
singularly, yet with how little notice, the vague guesses of 
that noble Greek had met with confirmation in the late 
nebular cosmogony, I felt that you could not avoid cast- 
ing your eyes upward to the great nebula in Orion, and I 
certainly expected that you would do so. You did look 
up; and I was now assured that I had correctly followed 
your steps. But in that bitter tirade upon Chantilly, 
which appeared in yesterday’s ' Musee / the satirist making 
some disgraceful allusions to the cobbler’s change of name 
upon assuming the buskin, quoted a Latin line about 
which we have often conversed. I mean the line — 

Perdidit antiquum litera prima sonum. 


I had told you that this was in reference to Orion, for- 
merly written Urion, and from certain pungencies con- 
nected with this explanation I was aware that you could 
not have forgotten it. It was clear, therefore, that you 
would not fail to combine the two ideas of Orion and 
Chantilly. That you did combine them I saw by the char- 
acter of the smile which passed over your lips. You 
thought of the poor cobbler’s immolation. So far you had 
been stooping in your gait, but now I saw you draw your- 
self up to your full height. I was then sure that you re- 
flected upon the diminutive figure of Chantilly. At this 
point I interrupted your meditations to remark that as, 
in fact, he was a very little fellow that Chantilly, he would 
do better at the Theatre des Varietes ” 

Not long after this we were looking over an evening 
edition of the “Gazette des Tribunaux,” when the follow- 
ing paragraphs arrested our attention. 

“Extraordinary Murders. — This morning about 
three o’clock the inhabitants of the Quartier St. Roch 
were aroused from sleep by a succession of terrific shrieks, 
issuing, apparently, from the fourth story of a house in 
the Rue Morgue, known to be in the sole occupancy of 
one Madame L’Espanaye, and her daughter, Mademoi- 
selle Camille L’Espanaye. After some delay, occasioned 
by a fruitless attempt to procure admission in the usual 
manner, the gateway was broken in with a crowbar, and 
eight or ten of the neighbors entered accompanied by two 
gendarmes . By this time the cries had ceased, but as the 
party rushed up the first flight of stairs, two or more 
rough voices in angry contention were distinguished, and 
seemed to proceed from the upper part of the house. As 
the second landing was reached these sounds also had 
ceased, and everything remained perfectly quiet. The 
party spread themselves and hurried from room to room. 
Upon arriving at a large back chamber in the fourth story 
(the door of which, being found locked with the key in- 



side, was forced open), a spectacle presented itself which 
struck every one present not less with horror than with 

“The apartment was in the wildest disorder, the fur- 
niture broken and thrown about in all directions. There 
was only one bedstead, and from this the bed had been re- 
moved and thrown into the middle of the floor. On a 
chair lay a razor besmeared with blood. On the hearth 
were two or three long and thick tresses of gray human 
hair, also dabbled in blood, and seeming to have been 
pulled out by the roots. Upon the floor were found four 
Napoleons, an earring of topaz, three large silver spoons, 
three smaller of metal d’ Alger, and two bags containing 
nearly four thousand francs in gold. The drawers of a 
bureau which stood in one corner were open, and had 
been apparently rifled, although many articles still re- 
mained in them. A small iron safe was discovered under 
the bed (not under the bedstead). It was open, with the 
key still in the door. It had no contents beyond a few old 
letters and other papers of little consequence. 

“Of Madame L’Espanaye no traces were here seen, 
but an unusual quantity of soot being observed in the fire- 
place, a search was made in the chimney, and (horrible to 
relate!) the corpse of the daughter, head downward, was 
dragged therefrom, it having been thus forced up the nar- 
row aperture for a considerable distance. The body was 
quite warm. Upon examining it many excoriations were 
perceived, no doubt occasioned by the violence with which 
it had been thrust up and disengaged. Upon the face 
were many severe scratches, and upon the throat, dark 
bruises and deep indentations of finger nails, as if the 
deceased had been throttled to death. 

“After a thorough investigation of every portion of the 
house, without further discovery, the party made its way 
into a small paved yard in the rear of the building, where 
lay the corpse of the old lady, with her throat so entirely 


cut that, upon an attempt to raise her, the head fell off. 
The body as well as the head was fearfully mutilated, 
the former so much so as scarcely to retain any semblance 
of humanity. 

“To this horrible mystery there is not as yet, we be- 
lieve, the slightest clue. ,, 

The next day’s paper had these additional particulars. 

“The Tragedy in the Rue Morgue . — Many individuals 
have been examined in relation to this most extraordinary 
and frightful affair” [the word “ affaire ” has not yet in 
France that levity of import which it conveys with us], 
“but nothing whatever has transpired to throw light 
upon it. We give below all the material testimony 

“Pauline Dubourg, laundress, deposes that she has 
known both the deceased for three years, having washed 
for them during that period. The old lady and her daugh- 
ter seemed on good terms — very affectionate toward each 
other. They were excellent pay. Could not speak in re- 
gard to their mode or means of living. Believed that 
Madame L. told fortunes for a living. Was reputed to 
have money put by. Never met any persons in the house 
when she called for the clothes or took them home. Was 
sure that they had no servant in employ. There appeared 
to be no furniture in any part of the building except in the 
fourth story. 

“Pierre Moreau , tobacconist, deposes that he has been 
in the habit of selling small quantities of tobacco and 
snuff to Madame L’Espanaye for nearly four years. Was 
born in the neighborhood, and has always resided there. 
The deceased and her daughter had occupied the house 
in which the corpses were found for more than six years. 
It was formerly occupied by a jeweler, who underlet the 
upper rooms to various persons. The house was the prop- 
erty of Madame L. She became dissatisfied with the abuse 
of the premises by her tenant, and moved into them herself, 



refusing to let any portion. The old lady was childish. Wit- 
ness had seen the daughter some five or six times during the 
six years. The two lived an exceedingly retired life — were 
reputed to have money. Had heard it said among the 
neighbors that Madame L. told fortunes — did not believe 
it. Had never seen any person enter the door except the 
old lady and her daughter, a porter once or twice, and a 
physician some eight or ten times. 

“Many other persons, neighbors, gave evidence to the 
same effect. No one was spoken of as frequenting the 
house. It was not known whether there were any living 
connections of Madame L. and her daughter. The shut- 
ters of the front windows were seldom opened. Those 
in the rear were always closed with the exception of the 
large back room, fourth story. The house was a good 
house, not very old. 

“Isidore Muset, gendarme, deposes that he was called 
to the house about three o'clock in the morning, and found 
some twenty or thirty persons at the gateway endeavoring 
to gain admittance. Forced it open at length with a bay- 
onet — not with a crowbar. Had but little difficulty in 
getting it open on account of its being a double or fold- 
ing gate, and bolted neither at bottom nor top. The 
shrieks were continued until the gate was forced, and then 
suddenly ceased. They seemed to be screams of some 
person (or persons) in great agony, were loud and drawn 
out, not short and quick. Witness led the way up-stairs. 
Upon reaching the first landing, heard two voices in loud 
and angry contention — the one a gruff voice, the other 
much shriller — a very strange voice. Could distinguish some 
words of the former, which was that of a Frenchman. 
Was positive that it was not a woman's voice. Could dis- 
tinguish the words ‘sacre’ and ' diable ! The shrill voice 
was that of a foreigner. Could not be sure whether it was 
the voice of a man or of a woman. Could not make out 
what was said, but believed the language to be Spanish. 


The state of the room and of the bodies was described by 
this witness as we described them yesterday. 

“Henri Duval , a neighbor, and by trade a silversmith, 
deposes that he was one of the party who first entered the 
house. Corroborates the testimony of Muset in general. 
As soon as they forced an entrance, they reclosed the door 
to keep out the crowd, which collected very fast, notwith- 
standing the lateness of the hour. The shrill voice, this 
witness thinks, was that of an Italian. Was certain it was 
not French. Could not be sure that it was a man’s voice. 
It might have been a woman’s. Was not acquainted with 
the Italian language. Could not distinguish the words, 
but was convinced by the intonation that the speaker was 
an Italian. Knew Madame L. and her daughter. Had 
conversed with both frequently. Was sure that the shrill 
voice was not that of either of the deceased. 

r - Odenheimer, restaurateur . — -This witness volun- 

teered his testimony. Not speaking French, was exam- 
ined through an interpreter. Is a native of Amsterdam. 
Was passing the house at the time of the shrieks. They 
lasted for several minutes — probably ten. They were long 
and loud — very awful and distressing. Was one of those 
who entered the building. Corroborated the previous 
evidence in every respect but one. Was sure that the 
shrill voice was that of a man — of a Frenchman. Could 
not distinguish the words uttered. They were loud and 
quick — unequal — spoken apparently in fear as well as in 
anger. The voice was harsh — not so much shrill as harsh. 
Could not call it a shrill voice. The grufif voice said re- 
peatedly C sacre / * diable / and once ‘mon Dieuf 

“Jules Mignaud, banker, of the firm of Mignaud et 
Fils, Rue Deloraine. — Is the elder Mignaud. Madame 
L’Espanaye had some property. Had opened an account 
with his banking-house in the spring of the year (eight 
years previously). Made frequent deposits in small sums. 
Had checked for nothing until the third day before her 



death, when she took out in person the sum of 4000 
francs. This sum was paid in gold and a clerk sent home 
with the money. 

“Adolphe Lebon, clerk to Mignaud et Fils, deposes that 
on the day in question, about noon, he accompanied 
Madame L’Espanaye to her residence with the 4000 
francs, put up in two bags. Upon the door being opened, 
Mademoiselle L. appeared and took from his hands one 
of the bags, while the old lady relieved him of the other. 
He then bowed and departed. Did not see any person in 
the street at the time. It is a by-street — very lonely. 

“William Bird , tailor, deposes that he was one of the 
party who entered the house. Is an Englishman. Has 
lived in Paris two years. Was one of the first to ascend 
the stairs. Heard the voices in contention. The gruff 
voice was that of a Frenchman. Could make out several 
words, but cannot now remember all. Heard distinctly 
‘sacre’ and ‘mon Dieu ! There was a sound at the moment 
as if of several persons struggling — a scraping and 
scuffling sound. The shrill voice was very loud — louder 
than the gruff one. Is sure that it was not the voice of an 
Englishman. Appeared to be that of a German. Might 
have been a woman's voice. Does not understand Ger- 

“Four of the above named witnesses, being recalled, de- 
posed that the door of the chamber in which was found 
the body of Mademoiselle L. was locked on the inside 
when the party reached it. Everything was perfectly 
silent — no groans or noises of any kind. Upon forcing 
the door no person was seen. The windows, both of the 
back and front room, were down and firmly fastened from 
within. A door between the two rooms was closed, but 
not locked. The door leading from the front room into 
the passage was locked, with the key on the inside. A 
small room in the front of the house, on the fourth story, 
at the head of the passage, was open, the door being ajar. 



This room was crowded with old beds, boxes, and so 
forth. These were carefully removed and searched. 
There was not an inch of any portion of the house which 
was not carefully searched. Sweeps were sent up and 
down the chimneys. The house was a four story one, 
with garrets (mansardes). A trapdoor on the roof was 
nailed down very securely — did not appear to have been 
opened for years. The time elapsing between the hearing 
of the voices in contention and the breaking open of the 
room door was variously stated by the witnesses. Some 
made it as short as three minutes — some as long as five. 
The door was opened with difficulty. 

“ Alfonso Garcio, undertaker, deposes that he resides in 
the Rue Morgue. Is a native of Spain. Was one of the 
party who entered the house. Did not proceed up-stairs. 
Is nervous, and was apprehensive of the consequences of 
agitation. Heard the voices in contention. The gruff 
voice was that of a Frenchman. Could not distinguish 
what was said. The shrill voice was that of an English- 
man — is sure of this. Does not understand the English 
language, but judges by the intonation. ' 

“Alberto Montani, confectioner, deposes that he was 
among the first to ascend the stairs. Heard the voices in 
question. The gruff voice was that of a Frenchman. Dis- 
tinguished several words. The speaker appeared to be 
expostulating. Could not make out the words of the 
shrill voice. Spoke quickly and unevenly. Thinks it the 
voice of a Russian. Corroborates the general testimony. 
Is an Italian. Never conversed with a native of Russia. 

“ Several witnesses, recalled, here testified that the 
chimneys of all the rooms on the fourth story were too 
narrow to admit the passage of a human being. By 
‘sweeps’ were meant cylindrical sweeping-brushes such as 
are employed by those who clean chimneys. These 
brushes were passed up and down every flue in the house. 
There is no back passage by which any one could have 



descended while the party proceeded up-stairs. ‘ The body 
of Mademoiselle L’Espanaye was so firmly wedged in 
the chimney that it could not be got down until four or 
five of the party united their strength. 

“Paul Dumas, physician, deposes that he was called to 
view the bodies about daybreak. They were both then 
lying on the sacking of the bedstead in the chamber where 
Mademoiselle L. was found. The corpse of the young 
lady was much bruised and excoriated. The fact that it 
had been thrust up the chimney would sufficiently account 
for these appearances. The throat was greatly chafed. 
There were several deep scratches just below the chin, to- 
gether with a series of livid spots which were evidently 
the impression of fingers. The face was fearfully dis- 
colored, and the eyeballs protruded. The tongue had been 
partially bitten through. A large bruise was discovered 
upon the pit of the stomach, produced apparently by the 
pressure of a knee. In the opinion of M. Dumas, Made- 
moiselle L’Espanaye had been throttled to death by some 
person or persons unknown. The corpse of the mother 
was horribly mutilated. All the bones of the right leg 
and arm were more or less shattered. The left tibia much 
splintered, as well as all the ribs of the left side. Whole 
body dreadfully bruised and discolored. It was not 
possible to say how the injuries had been inflicted. A 
heavy club of wood, or a broad bar of iron — a chair — any 
large, heavy, and obtuse weapon would have produced 
such results if wielded by the hands of a very powerful 
man. No woman could have inflicted the blows with any 
weapon. The head of the deceased, when seen by wit- 
ness, was entirely separated from the body, and was also 
greatly shattered. The throat had evidently been cut with 
some very sharp instrument — probably with a razor. 

“Alexandre Etienne, surgeon, was called with M. 
Dumas to view the bodies. Corroborated the testimony 
and the opinions of M. Dumas. 


“Nothing further of importance was elicited, although 
several other persons were examined. A murder so 
mysterious, and so perplexing in all its particulars, was 
never before committed in Paris — if indeed a murder has 
been committed at all. The police are entirely at fault — 
an unusual occurrence in affairs of this nature. There 
is not, however, the shadow of a clue apparent.” 

The evening edition of the paper stated that the great- 
est excitement still continued in the Quartier St. Roch — 
that the premises in question had been carefully re- 
searched, and fresh examinations of witnesses instituted, 
but all to no purpose. A postscript, however, mentioned 
that Adolphe Lebon had been arrested and imprisoned — 
although nothing appeared to criminate him beyond the 
facts already detailed. 

Dupin seemed singularly interested in the progress of 
this affair — at least so I judged from his manner, for he 
made no comments. It was only after the announcement 
that Lebon had been imprisoned that he asked me my 
opinion respecting the murders. 

I could merely agree with all Paris in considering them 
an insoluble mystery. I saw no means by which it would 
be possible to trace the murderer. 

“We must not judge of the means,” said Dupin, “by 
this shell of an examination. The Parisian police, so 
much extolled for acumen , are cunning, but no more. 
There is no method in their proceedings, beyond the 
method of the moment. They make a vast parade of 
measures; but, not infrequently, these are so ill-adapted 
to the objects proposed as to put us in mind of Monsieur 
Jourdain’s calling for his robe-de-chambre — pour mieux 
entendre la musique . The results attained by them are 
not infrequently surprising, but for the most part are 
brought about by simple diligence and activity. When 
these qualities are unavailing, their schemes fail. Vidocq, 
for example, was a good guesser, and a persevering man. 



But, without educated thought, he erred continually by 
the very intensity of his investigations. He impaired his 
vision by holding the object too close. He might see, per- 
haps, one or two points with unusual clearness, but in so 
doing, he necessarily lost sight of the matter as a whole. 
Thus there is such a thing as being too profound. Truth 
is not always in a well. In fact, as regards the more im- 
portant knowledge, I do believe that she is invariably 
superficial. The truth lies not in the valleys where we 
seek her, but upon the mountain tops where she is found. 
The modes and sources of this kind of error are well 
typified in the contemplation of the heavenly bodies. To 
look at a star by glances — to view it in a side-long way, 
by turning towards it the exterior portions of the retina 
(more susceptible of feeble impressions of light than the 
interior), is to behold the star distinctly — is to have the 
best appreciation of its luster — a luster which grows dim 
just in proportion as we turn our vision fully upon it. A 
greater number of rays actually fall upon the eye in the 
latter case, but in the former there is the more refined 
capacity for comprehension. By undue profundity we 
perplex and enfeeble thought; and it is possible to make 
even Venus herself vanish from the firmament by a 
scrutiny too sustained, too concentrated, or too direct. 

“As for these murders, let us enter into some examina- 
tions for ourselves before we make up an opinion respect- 
ing them. An inquiry will afford us amusement” [I 
thought this an odd term so applied, but said nothing], 
“and besides, Lebon once rendered me a service for which 
I am not ungrateful. We will go and see the premises 

with our own eyes. I know G , the Prefect of Police, 

and shall have no difficulty in obtaining the necessary per- 

The permission was obtained, and we proceeded at once 
to the Rue Morgue. This is one of those miserable thor- 
oughfares which intervene between the Rue Richelieu and 


the Rue St. Roch. It was late in the afternoon when we 
reached it, as this quarter is at a great distance from that 
in which we resided. The house was readily found; for 
there were still many persons gazing up at the closed shut- 
ters, with an objectless curiosity, from the opposite side 
of the way. It was an ordinary Parisian house, with a 
gateway, on one side of which was a glazed watch-box, 
with a sliding panel in the window, indicating a loge du 
concierge . Before going in we walked up the street, turned 
down an alley, and then, again turning, passed in the 
rear of the building — Dupin, meanwhile, examining the 
whole neighborhood, as well as the house, with a minute- 
ness of attention for which I could see no possible object. 

Retracing our steps, we came again to the front of the 
dwelling, rang, and, having shown our credentials, were 
admitted by the agents in charge. We went upstairs — 
into the chamber where the body of Mademoiselle L’Es- 
panaye had been found, and where both the deceased still 
lay. The disorders of the room had, as usual, been suf- 
fered to exist. I saw nothing beyond what had been 
stated in the “Gazette des Tribunaux. ,, Dupin scrutinized 
everything — not excepting the bodies of the victims. We 
then went into the other rooms, and into the yard; a 
gendarme accompanying us throughout. The examination 
occupied us until dark, when we took our departure. On 
our way home my companion stepped in for a moment at 
the office of one of the daily papers. 

I have said that the whims of my friend were mani- 
fold, and that Je les menageais — for this phrase there is 
no English equivalent. It was his humor now to decline 
all conversation on the subject of the murder, until about 
noon the next day. He then asked me suddenly, if I had 
observed anything peculiar at the scene of the atrocity. 

There was something in his manner of emphasizing the 
word “peculiar/’ which caused me to shudder without 
knowing why. 



“No, nothing peculiar ” I said; “nothing more, at least, 
than we both saw stated in the paper.” 

“The ‘Gazette/ ” he replied, “has not entered, I fear, 
into the unusual horror of the thing. But dismiss the idle 
opinions of this print. It appears to me that this mystery 
is considered insoluble for the very reason which should 
cause it to be regarded as easy of solution — I mean for 
the outre character of its features. The police are con- 
founded by the seeming absence of motive — not for the 
murder itself, but for the atrocity of the murder. They 
are puzzled, too, by the seeming impossibility of recon- 
ciling the voices heard in contention, with the facts that 
no one was discovered up-stairs but the assassinated 
Mademoiselle L’Espanaye, and that there were no means 
of egress without the notice of the party ascending. The 
wild disorder of the room; the corpse thrust, with the 
head downward, up the chimney; the frightful mutila- 
tion of the body of the old lady; these considerations, 
with those just mentioned, and others which I need not 
mention, have sufficed to paralyze the powers, by putting 
completely at fault the boasted acumen of the government 
agents. They have fallen into the gross but common 
error of confounding the unusual with the abstruse. But 
it is by these deviations from the plane of the ordinary 
that reason feels its way, if at all, in its search for the 
true. In investigations such as we are now pursuing it 
should not be so much asked ‘what has occurred/ as ‘what 
has occurred that has never occurred before/ In fact, the 
facility with which I shall arrive, or have arrived at the 
solution of this mystery, is in the direct ratio of its ap- 
parent insolubility in the eyes of the police.” 

I stared at the speaker in mute astonishment. 

“I am now awaiting,” continued he, looking toward the 
door of our apartment — “I am now awaiting a person 
who although perhaps not the perpetrator of these 
butcheries, must have been in some measure implicated in 


their perpetration. Of the worst portion of the crimes 
committed, it is probable that he is innocent. I hope that 
I am right in this supposition ; for upon it I build my ex- 
pectation of reading the entire riddle. I look for the man 
here — in this room — every moment. It is true that he 
may not arrive ; but the probability is that he will. Should 
he come, it will be necessary to detain him. Here are 
pistols; and we both know how to use them when occa- 
sion demands their use.” 

I took the pistols, scarcely knowing what I did, or be- 
lieving what I heard, while Dupin went on, very much as 
if in a soliloquy. I have already spoken of his abstract 
manner at such times. His discourse was addressed to 
myself ; but his voice, although by no means loud, had 
that intonation which is commonly employed in speaking 
to some one at a great distance. His eyes, vacant in ex- 
pression, regarded only the wall. 

“That the voices heard in contention,” he said, “by the 
party upon the stairs, were not the voices of the women 
themselves, was fully proved by the evidence. This re- 
lieves us of all doubt upon the question whether the old 
lady could have first destroyed the daughter, and after- 
wards have committed suicide. I speak of this point 
chiefly for the sake of method; for the strength of 
Madame L’Espanaye would have been utterly unequal to 
the task of thrusting her daughter’s corpse up the chim- 
ney as it was found ; and the nature of the wounds upon 
her own person entirely precludes the idea of self-destruc- 
tion. Murder, then, has been committed by some third 
party; and the voices of this third party were those heard 
in contention. Let me now advert — not to the whole 
testimony respecting these voices — but to what was pecu- 
liar in that testimony. Did you observe anything peculiar 
about it?” 

I remarked that, while all the witnesses agreed in sup- 
posing the gruff voice to be that of a Frenchman, there 



was much disagreement in regard to the shrill, or, as one 
individual termed it, the harsh voice. 

“That was the evidence itself,” said Dupin, “but it was 
not the peculiarity of the evidence. You have observed 
nothing distinctive. Yet there was something to be ob- 
served. The witnesses, as you remark, agreed about the 
gruff voice; they were here unanimous. But in regard 
to the shrill voice, the peculiarity is — not that they dis- 
agreed — but that, while an Italian, an Englishman, a 
Spaniard, a Hollander, and a Frenchman attempted to de- 
scribe it, each one spoke of it as that of a foreigner . Each 
is sure that it was not the voice of one of his own coun- 
trymen. Each likens it — not to the voice of an individual 
of any nation with whose language he is conversant— but 
the converse. The Frenchman supposes it the voice of a 
Spaniard, and 'might have distinguished some words had 
he been acquainted with the Spanish / The Dutchman 
maintains it to have been that of a Frenchman; but we 
find it stated that ‘ not understanding French this witness 
was examined through an interpreter ’ The Englishman 
thinks it the voice of a German, and ‘ does not understand 
German ’ The Spaniard 'is sure’ that it was that of an 
Englishman, but ‘judges by the intonation’ altogether, ‘as 
he has no knowledge of the English' The Italian believes 
it the voice of a Russian, but ‘ has never conversed with 
a native of Russia / A second Frenchman differs, more- 
over, with the first, and is positive that the voice is that 
of an Italian; but, not being cognizant of that tongue , is, 
like the Spaniard, ‘convinced by the intonation.’ Now, 
how strangely unusual must that voice have really been, 
about which such testimony as this could have been 
elicited ! — in whose tones , even, denizens of the five great 
divisions of Europe could recognize nothing familiar ! 
You will say that it might have been the voice of an 
Asiatic — of an African. Neither Asiatics nor Africans 
abound in Paris; but, without denying the inference, I 


will now merely call your attention to three points. The 
voice is termed by one witness ‘harsh rather than shrill . 9 
It is represented by two others to have been ‘quick and 
unequal / No words — no sounds resembling words — were 
by any witness mentioned as distinguishable. 

“I know not,” continued Dupin, “what impression I 
may have made, so far, upon your own understanding, but 
I do not hesitate to say that legitimate deductions even 
from this portion of the testimony — the portion respecting 
the gruff and shrill voices — are in themselves sufficient to 
engender a suspicion which should give direction to all 
further progress in the investigation of the mystery. I 
said ‘legitimate deductions/ but my meaning is not thus 
fully expressed. I designed to imply that the deductions 
are the sole proper ones, and that the suspicion arises in- 
evitably from them as the single result. What the sus- 
picion is, however, I will not say just yet. I merely wish 
you to bear in mind that, with myself, it was sufficiently 
forcible to give a definite form — a certain tendency — to 
my inquiries in the chamber. 

“Let us now transport ourselves, in fancy, to this cham- 
ber. What shall we first seek here ? The means of egress 
employed by the murderers. It is not too much to say 
that neither of us believe in preternatural events. Madame 
and Mademoiselle L’Espanaye were not destroyed by 
spirits. The doers of the deed were material, and escaped 
materially. Then how? Fortunately there is but one 
mode of reasoning upon the point, and that mode must 
lead us to a definite decision. Let us examine, each by 
each, the possible means of egress. It is clear that the 
assassins were in the room where Mademoiselle L’Es- 
panaye was found, or at least in the room adjoining, when 
the party ascended the stairs. It is then only from these 
two apartments that we have to seek issues. The police 
have laid bare the floors, the ceilings, and the masonry 
of the walls in every direction. No secret issues could 



have escaped their vigilance. But, not trusting to their 
eyes, I examined with my own. There were, then, no 
secret issues. Both doors leading from the rooms into 
the passage were securely locked, with the keys inside. 
Let us turn to the chimneys. These, although of ordinary 
width for some eight or ten feet above the hearths, will 
not admit, throughout their extent, the body of a large 
cat. The impossibility of egress, by means already stated, 
being thus absolute, we are reduced to the windows. 
Through those of the front room no one could have es- 
caped without notice from the crowd in the street. The 
murderers must have passed, then, through those of the 
back room. Now, brought to this conclusion in so un- 
equivocal a manner as we are, it is not our part, as rea- 
soners, to reject it on account of apparent impossibilities. 
It is only left for us to prove that these apparent ‘impossi- 
bilities’ are, in reality, not such. 

“There are two windows in the chamber. One of them 
is unobstructed by furniture, and is wholly visible. The 
lower portion of the other is hidden from view by the 
head of the unwieldy bedstead which is thrust close up 
against it. The former was found securely fastened from 
within. It resisted the utmost force of those who en- 
deavored to raise it. A large gimlet-hole had been pierced 
in its frame to the left, and a very stout nail was found 
fitted therein, nearly to the head. Upon examining the 
other window a similar nail was seen similarly fitted in it ; 
and a vigorous attempt to raise this sash failed also. The 
police were now entirely satisfied that egress had not been 
in these directions. And, therefore , it was thought a 
matter of supererogation to withdraw the nails and open 
the windows. 

“My own examination was somewhat more particular, 
and was so far the reason I have just given — because 
here it was, I knew, that all apparent impossibilities must 
be proved to be not such in reality. 



“I proceeded to think thus — a posteriori. The mur- 
derers did escape from one of these windows. This being 
so, they could not have refastened the sashes from the 
inside, as they were found fastened — the consideration 
which puts a stop, through its obviousness, to the scrutiny 
of the police in this quarter. Yet the sashes were 
fastened. They must , then, have the power of fastening 
themselves. There was no escape from this conclusion. 
I stepped to the unobstructed casement, withdrew the nail 
with some difficulty, and attempted to raise the sash. It 
resisted all my efforts, as I had anticipated. A concealed 
spring must, I now knew, exist ; and this corroboration of 
my idea convinced me that my premises, at least, were 
correct, however mysterious still appeared the circum- 
stances attending the nail. A careful search soon brought 
to light the hidden spring. I pressed it, and, satisfied with 
the discovery, forbore to upraise the sash. 

“I now replaced the nail and regarded it attentively. A 
person passing out through this window might have re- 
closed it, and the spring would have caught : but the nail 
could not have been replaced. The conclusion was plain, 
and again narrowed in the field of my investigations. The 
assassins must have escaped through the other window. 
Supposing, then, the springs upon each sash to be the 
same, as was probable, there must be found a difference 
between the nails, or at least between the modes of their 
fixture. Getting upon the sacking of the bedstead, I 
looked over the head-board minutely at the second case- 
ment. Passing my hand down behind the board, I readily 
discovered and pressed the spring, which was, as I had 
supposed, identical in character with its neighbor. I now 
looked at the nail. It was as stout as the other, and ap- 
parently fitted in the same manner, driven in nearly up 
to the head. 

“You will say that I was puzzled; but if you think so 
you must have misunderstood the nature of the indue- 



tions. To use a sporting phrase, I had not been once 'at 
fault/ The scent had never for an instant been lost. 
There was no flaw in any link of the chain. I had traced the 
secret to its ultimate result; and that result was the nail. 
It had, I say, in every respect the appearance of its fellow 
in the other window ; but this fact was an absolute nullity 
(conclusive as it might seem to be) when compared with 
the consideration that here at this point terminated the 
clue. "There must be something wrong,” I said, "about 
the nail.” I touched it, and the head, with about a quar- 
ter of an inch of the shank, came off in my fingers. The 
rest of the shank was in the gimlet-hole, where it had 
been broken off. The fracture was an old one (for its 
edges were incrusted with rust), and had apparently been 
accomplished by the blow of a hammer, which had par- 
tially imbedded in the top of the bottom sash the head por- 
tion of the nail. I now carefully replaced this head portion 
in the indentation whence I had taken it, and the resem- 
blance to a perfect nail was complete — the fissure was 
invisible. Pressing the spring, I gently raised the sash for 
a few inches ; the head went up with it, remaining firm in 
its bed. I closed the window, and the semblance of the 
whole nail was again perfect. 

"The riddle, so far, was now unriddled. The assassin 
had escaped through the window which looked upon the 
bed. Dropping of its own accord upon his exit (or per- 
haps purposely closed), it had become fastened by the 
spring; and it was the retention of this spring which had 
been mistaken by the police for that of the nail, — further 
inquiry being thus considered unnecessary. 

"The next question is that of the mode of descent. Upon 
this point I had been satisfied in my walk with you around 
the building. About five feet and a half from the case- 
ment in question there runs a lightning-rod. From this 
rod it would have been impossible for any one to reach 
the window itself, to say nothing of entering it. I ob- 


served, however, that the shutters of the fourth story 
were of the peculiar kind called by Parisian carpenters 
ferrades — a kind rarely employed at the present day, but 
frequently seen upon very old mansions at Lyons and 
Bordeaux. They are in the form of an ordinary door (a 
single, not a folding door), except that the lower half is 
latticed or worked in open trellis, thus affording an ex- 
cellent hold for the hands. In the present instance these 
shutters are fully three feet and a half broad. When we 
saw them from the rear of the house they were both about 
half open — that is to say, they stood off at right angles 
from the wall. It is probable that the police, as well as 
myself, examined the back of the tenement; but if so, in 
looking at these ferrades in the line of their breadth (as 
they must have done), they did not perceive this great 
breadth itself, or, at all events, failed to take it into due 
consideration. In fact, having once satisfied themselves 
that no egress could have been made in this quarter, they 
would naturally bestow here a very cursory examination. 
It was clear to me, however, that the shutter belonging to 
the window at the head of the bed would, if swung fully 
back to the wall, reach to within two feet of the lightning- 
rod. It was also evident that by exertion of a very un- 
usual degree of activity and courage an entrance into the 
window from the rod might have been thus effected. By 
reaching to the distance of two feet and a half (we now 
suppose the shutter open to its whole extent) a robber 
might have taken a firm grasp upon the trellis-work. Let- 
ting go, then, his hold upon the rod, placing his feet se- 
curely against the wall, and springing boldly from it, he 
might have swung the shutter so as to close it, and if we 
imagine the window open at the time, might even have 
swung himself into the room. 

“I wish you to bear especially in mind that I have 
spoken of a very unusual degree of activity as requisite 
to success in so hazardous and so difficult a feat. It is my 



design to show you, first, that the thing might possibly 
have been accomplished ; but, secondly and chiefly, I wish 
to impress upon your understanding the very extraordi- 
nary, the almost preternatural, character of that agility 
which could have accomplished it. 

“You will say, no doubt, using the language of the 
law, that ‘to make out my case’ I should rather under- 
value than insist upon a full estimation of the activity re- 
quired in this matter. This may be the practice in lav/, 
but it is not the usage of reason. My ultimate object is 
only the truth. My immediate purpose is to lead you to 
place in juxtaposition that very unusual activity of which 
I have just spoken with that very peculiar shrill (or 
harsh) and unequal voice, about whose nationality no two 
persons could be found to agree, and in whose utterance 
no syllabification could be detected.” 

At these words a vague and half-formed conception of 
the meaning of Dupin flitted over my mind. I seemed to 
be upon the verge of comprehension, without power to 
comprehend, as men at times find themselves upon the 
brink of remembrance, without being able in the end to 
remember. My friend went on with his discourse. 

“You will see,” he said, “that I have shifted the ques- 
tion from the mode of egress to that of ingress. It was 
my design to convey the idea that both were effected in 
the same manner at the same point. Let us now revert to 
the interior of the room. Let us survey the appearances 
here. The drawers of the bureau, it is said, had been 
rifled, although many articles of apparel still remained 
within them. The conclusion here is absurd. It is a 
mere guess — a very silly one — and no more. How are 
we to know that the articles found in the drawers were 
not all these drawers had originally contained? Madame 
L’Espanaye and her daughter lived an exceedingly re- 
tired life — saw no company — seldom went out — had little 
use for numerous changes of habiliment. Those found 


were at least of as good quality as any likely to be pos- 
sessed by these ladies. If a thief had taken any, why did 
he not take the best? — why did he not take all? In a 
word, why did he abandon four thousand francs in gold 
to encumber himself with a bundle of linen? The gold 
was abandoned. Nearly the whole sum mentioned by 
Monsieur Mignaud, the banker, was discovered in bags 
upon the floor. I wish you, therefore, to discard from 
your thoughts the blundering idea of motive , engendered 
in the brains of the police by that portion of the evidence 
which speaks of money delivered at the door of the house. 
Coincidences ten times as remarkable as this (the delivery 
of the money, and murder committed within three days upon 
the party receiving it) happen to all of us every hour of 
our lives without attracting even momentary notice. Co- 
incidences, in general, are great stumbling-blocks in the 
way of that class of thinkers who have been educated to 
know nothing of the theory of probabilities — that theory 
to which the most glorious objects of human research are 
indebted for the most glorious of illustration. In the pres- 
ent instance, had the gold been gone, the fact of its de- 
livery three days before would have formed something 
more than a coincidence. It would have been corrobora- 
tive of this idea of motive. But, under the real circum- 
stances of the case, if we are to suppose gold the motive of 
this outrage, we must also imagine the perpetrator so 
vacillating an idiot as to have abandoned his gold and his 
motive together. 

“Keeping now steadily in mind the points to which I 
have drawn your attention — that peculiar voice, that un- 
usual agility, and that startling absence of motive in a 
murder so singularly atrocious as this — let us glance at 
the butchery itself. Here is a woman strangled to death 
by manual strength, and thrust up a chimney, head down- 
ward. Ordinary assassins employ no such modes of mur- 
der as this. Least of all do they thus dispose of the mur- 



dered. In the manner of thrusting the corpse up the 
chimney, you will admit that there was something ex- 
cessively outre — something altogether irreconcilable with 
our common notions of human action, even when we sup- 
pose the actors the most depraved of men. Think, too, 
how great must have been that strength which could have 
thrust the body up such an aperture so forcibly that the 
united vigor of several persons was found barely suffi- 
cient to drag it down ! 

“Turn, now, to other indications of the employment of 
a vigor most marvelous. On the hearth were thick tresses 
— very thick tresses — of gray human hair. These had 
been torn out by the roots. You are aware of the great 
force necessary in tearing thus from the head even twenty 
or thirty hairs together. You saw the locks in question 
as well as myself. Their roots (a hideous sight) were 
clotted with fragments of the flesh of the scalp — sure 
token of the prodigious power which had been exerted 
in uprooting perhaps half a million of hairs at a time. 
The throat of the old lady was not merely cut, but the 
head absolutely severed from the body — the instrument 
was a mere razor. I wish you also to look at the brutal 
ferocity of these deeds. Of the bruises upon the body of 
Madame L’Espanaye I do not speak. Monsieur Dumas, 
and his worthy coadjutor, Monsieur Etienne, have pro- 
nounced that they were inflicted by some obtuse instru- 
ment ; and so far these gentlemen are very correct. The 
obtuse instrument was clearly the stone pavement in the 
yard upon which the victim had fallen from the window 
which looked in upon the bed. This idea, however simple 
it may now seem, escaped the police for the same reason 
that the breadth of the shutters escaped them — because, 
by the affair of the nails, their perceptions had been her- 
metically sealed against the possibility of the windows 
having ever been opened at all. 

“If, now, in addition to all these things, you have prop- 


erly reflected upon the odd disorder of the chamber, we 
have gone so far as to combine the ideas of an agility as- 
tounding, a strength superhuman, a ferocity brutal, a 
butchery without motive, a grotesquerie in horror abso- 
lutely alien from humanity, and a voice foreign in tone 
to the ears of men of many nations, and devoid of all dis- 
tinct or intelligible syllabification. What result, then, has 
ensued ? What impression have I made upon your fancy ?” 

I felt a creeping of the flesh as Dupin asked me the 
question. “A madman,” I said, “has done this deed — 
some raving maniac escaped from a neighboring maison 
de sante .” 

“In some respects,” he replied, “your idea is not irrele- 
vant; but the voices of madmen, even in their wildest 
paroxysms, are never found to tally with that peculiar 
voice heard upon the stairs. Madmen are of some nation, 
and their language, however incoherent in its words, has 
always the coherence of syllabification. Besides, the hair 
of a madman is not such as I now hold in my hand. I 
disentangled this little tuft from the rigidly clutched 
fingers of Madame L’Espanaye. Tell me what you can 
make of it?” 

“Dupin!” I said, completely unnerved, “this hair is 
most unusual — this is no human hair.” 

“I have not asserted that it is,” said he; “but, before 
we decide this point, I wish you to glance at the little 
sketch I have here traced upon this paper. It is a fac- 
simile drawing of what has been described in one portion 
of the testimony as ‘dark bruises, and deep indentations 
of finger nails/ upon the throat of Mademoiselle L’Es- 
panaye, and in another (by Messrs. Dumas and Etienne), 
as a ‘series of livid spots evidently the impression of 

“You will perceive,” continued my -friend, spreading 
out the paper upon the table before us, “that this draw- 
ing gives the idea of a firm and fixed hold. There is no 



slipping apparent. Each finger has retained — possibly 
until the death of the victim — the fearful gra^p by which 
it originally embedded itself. Attempt, now, to place all 
your fingers, at the same time, in the respective impres- 
sions as you see them.” 

I made the attempt in vain. 

“We are possibly not giving this matter a fair trial,” he 
said. “The paper is spread out upon a plane surface; but 
the human throat is cylindrical. Here is a billet of wood, 
the circumference of which is about that of the throat. 
Wrap the drawing around it, and try the experiment 

I did so ; but the difficulty was even more obvious than 
before. “This,” I said, “is the mark of no human hand.” 

“Read now,” replied Dupin, “this passage from 

It was a minute anatomical and generally descriptive 
account of the large fulvous Ourang-outang of the East 
Indian Islands. The gigantic stature, the prodigious 
strength and activity, the wild ferocity, and the imitative 
propensities of these mammalia are sufficiently well known 
to all. I understood the full horrors of the murder at 

“The description of the digits,” said I, as I made an 
end of reading, “is in exact accordance with this draw- 
ing. I see that no animal but an Ourang-outang, of the 
species here mentioned, could have impressed the in- 
dentations as you have traced them. This tuft of tawny 
hair, too, is identical in character with that of the best 
of Cuvier. But I cannot possibly comprehend the par- 
ticulars of this frightful mystery. Besides, there were 
two voices heard in contention, and one of them was un- 
questionably the voice of a Frenchman.” 

“True; and you will remember an expression attributed 
almost unanimously, by the evidence, to this voice, — the 
expression ' Mon Dieu!' This, under the circumstances, 


has been justly characterized by one of the witnesses 
(Montani, the confectioner) as an expression of remon- 
strance or expostulation. Upon these two words, there- 
fore, I have mainly built my hopes of a full solution of 
the riddle. A Frenchman was cognizant of the murder. 
It is possible — indeed it is far more than probable — that 
he was innocent of all participation in the bloody transac- 
tions which took place. The Ourang-outang may have es- 
caped from him. He may have traced it to the chamber; 
but, under the agitating circumstances which ensued, he 
could never have recaptured it. It is still at large. I will 
not pursue these guesses — for I have no right to call them 
more — since the shades of reflection upon which they are 
based are scarcely of sufficient depth to be appreciable by 
my own intellect, and since I could not pretend to make 
them intelligible to the understanding of another. We 
will call them guesses, then, and speak of them as such. 
If the Frenchman in question is indeed, as I suppose, in- 
nocent of this atrocity, this advertisement which I left last 
night upon our return home at the office of ‘Le Monde’ (a 
paper devoted to the shipping interest, and much sought 
by sailors) will bring him to our residence.” 

He handed me a paper, and I read thus : 

“Caught. — In the Bois de Boulogne , early in the morning of 

the inst. (the morning of the murder), a very large, tawny 

Ourang-outang of the Bornese species. The owner (who is ascer- 
tained to he a sailor , belonging to a Maltese vessel) may have the 
animal again , upon identifying it satisfactorily , and paying a few 
charges arising from its capture and keeping. Call at No. — 
Rue , Faubourg St. Germain — au troisieme. 

“How was it possible,” I asked, “that you should know 
the man to be a sailor, and belonging to a Maltese ves- 

“I do not know it,” said Dupin. “I am not sure of it. 
Here, however, is a small piece of ribbon, which, from 



its form and from its greasy appearance, has evidently 
been used in tying the hair in one of those long queues of 
which sailors are so fond. Moreover, this knot is one 
which few besides sailors can tie, and is peculiar to the 
Maltese. I picked the ribbon up at the foot of the light- 
ning-rod. It could not have belonged to either of the 
deceased. Now if, after all, I am wrong in my induction 
from this ribbon, that the Frenchman was a sailor be- 
longing to a Maltese vessel, still I can have done no 
harm in saying what I did in the advertisement. If I am 
in error, he will merely suppose that I have been misled 
by some circumstance into which he will not take the 
trouble to inquire. But if I am right, a great point is 
gained. Cognizant, although innocent, of the murder, 
the Frenchman will naturally hesitate about replying to 
the advertisement — about demanding the Ourang-outang. 
He will reason thus: — ‘I am innocent; I am poor; my 
Ourang-outang is of great value — to one in my circum- 
stances a fortune of itself — why should I lose it through 
idle apprehensions of danger ? Here it is, within my grasp. 
It was found in the Bois de Boulogne — at a vast distance 
from the scene of that butchery. How can it ever be sus- 
pected that the brute beast should have done the deed? 
The police are at fault — they have failed to procure the 
slightest clue. Should they even trace the animal, it 
would be impossible to prove me cognizant of the murder, 
or to implicate me in guilt on account of that cognizance. 
Above all, I am known . The advertiser designates me 
as the possessor of the beast. I am not sure to what limit 
his knowledge may extend. Should I avoid claiming a 
property of so great value, which it is known that I pos- 
sess, I will render the animal at least liable to suspicion. 
It is not my policy to attract attention either to myself or 
to the beast. I will answer the advertisement, get the 
Ourang-outang, and keep it close until this matter has 
blown over.” 


At this moment we heard a step upon the stairs. 

“Be ready/’ said Dupin, “with your pistols, but neither 
use them nor show them until at a signal from myself/’ 

The front door of the house had been left open, and 
the visitor had entered without ringing, and advanced sev- 
eral steps upon the staircase. Now, however, he seemed 
to hesitate. Presently we heard him descending. Dupin 
was moving quickly to the door, when he again heard him 
coming up. He did not turn back a second time, but 
stepped up with decision, and rapped at the door of our 

“Come in,” said Dupin, in a cheerful and hearty tone. 

A man entered. He was a sailor, evidently — a tall, 
stout, and muscular-looking person, with a certain dare- 
devil expression of countenance, not altogether unpre- 
possessing. His face, greatly sunburnt, was more than 
half hidden by whiskers and mustachio. He had with him 
a huge oaken cudgel, but appeared to be otherwise un- 
armed* He bowed awkwardly, and bade us “good eve- 
ning” in French accents, which, although somewhat 
Neufchatelish, were still sufficiently indicative of a 
Parisian origin. 

“Sit down, my friend,” said Dupin. “I suppose you 
have called about the Ourang-outang. Upon my word I 
almost envy you the possession of him; a remarkably fine, 
and no doubt a very valuable animal. How old do you 
suppose him to be?” 

The sailor drew a long breath, with the air of a man re- 
lieved of some intolerable burden, and then replied in an 
assured tone: 

“I have no way of telling — but he can’t be more than 
four or five years old. Have you got him here?” 

“Oh no ; we had no conveniences for keeping him here. 
He is at a livery stable in the Rue Dubourg, just by. You 
can get him in the morning. Of course you are prepared 
to identify the property. 



“To be sure I am, sir.” 

“I shall be sorry to part with him,” said Dupin. 

“I don't mean that you should be at all this trouble for 
nothing, sir,” said the man. “Couldn't expect it. Am 
very willing to pay a reward for the finding of the animal 
— that is to say, anything in reason.” 

“Well,” replied my friend, “that is all very fair, to be 
sure. Let me think! — what should I have? Oh! I will, 
tell you. My reward shall be this. You shall give me 
all the information in your power about these murders 
in the Rue Morgue.” 

Dupin said the last words in a very low tone, and very 
quietly. Just as quietly, too, he walked towards the door, 
locked it, and put the key in his pocket. He then drew a 
pistol from his bosom and placed it, without the least 
flurry, upon the table. 

The sailor's face flushed up as if he were struggling 
with suffocation. He started to his feet and grasped his 
cudgel, but the next moment he fell back into his seat, 
trembling violently, and with the countenance of death 
itself. He spoke not a word. I pitied him from the bot- 
tom of my heart. 

“My friend,” said Dupin in a kind tone, “you are 
alarming yourself unnecessarily — you are indeed. We 
mean you no harm whatever. I pledge you the honor of 
a gentleman, and of a Frenchman, that we intend you no 
injury. I perfectly well know that you are innocent of 
the atrocities in the Rue Morgue. It will not do, how- 
ever, to deny that you are in some measure implicated in 
them. From what I have already said, you must know 
that I have had means of information about this matter — 
means of which you could never have dreamed. Now the 
thing stands thus. You have done nothing which you 
could have avoided — nothing, certainly, which renders 
you culpable. You were not even guilty of robbery when 
you might have robbed with impunity. You have nothing 


to conceal. You have no reason for concealment. On the 
other hand, you are bound by every principle of honor to 
confess all you know. An innocent man is now impris- 
oned, charged with that crime of which you can point out 
the perpetrator.” 

The sailor had recovered his presence of mind in a 
great measure while Dupin uttered these words, but his 
original boldness of bearing was all gone. 

“So help me God,” said he, after a brief pause, “I will 
tell you all I know about this affair; — but I do not ex- 
pect you to believe one-half I say — I would be a fool in- 
deed if I did. Still I am innocent, and I will make a clean 
breast if I die for it.” 

What he stated was in substance this. He had lately 
made a voyage to the Indian Archipelago. A party, of 
which he formed one, landed at Borneo and passed into 
the interior on an excursion of pleasure. Himself and a 
companion had captured the Ourang-outang. This com- 
panion dying, the animal fell into his own exclusive pos- 
session. After great trouble, occasioned by the intractable 
ferocity of his captive during the home voyage, he at 
length succeeded in landing it safely at his own residence in 
Paris, where, not to attract towards himself the unpleas- 
ant curiosity of his neighbors, he kept it carefully secluded 
until such time as it should recover from a wound in the 
foot received from a splinter on board ship. His ultimate 
design was to sell it. 

Returning home from some sailor’s frolic on the night, or 
rather in the morning of the murder, he found the beast 
occupying his own bedroom, into which it had broken 
from a closet adjoining, where it had been, as was 
thought, securely confined. Razor in hand and fully 
lathered, it was sitting before a looking-glass attempting 
the operation of shaving, in which it had no doubt pre- 
viously watched its master through the keyhole of the 
closet. Terrified at the sight of so dangerous a weapon 



in the possession of an animal so ferocious and so well 
able to use it, the man, for some moments, was at a loss 
what to do. He had been accustomed, however, to quiet 
the creature, even in its fiercest moods, by the use of a 
whip, and to this he now resorted. Upon sight of it, the 
Ourang-outang sprang at once through the door of the 
chamber, down the stairs, and thence through a window, 
unfortunately open, into the street. 

The Frenchman followed in despair; the ape, razor still 
in hand, occasionally stopping to look back and gesticulate 
at its pursuer, until the latter had nearly come up with it. 
It then again made off. In this manner the chase con- 
tinued for a long time. The streets were profoundly 
quiet, as it was nearly three o'clock in the morning. In 
passing down an alley in the rear of the Rue Morgue, the 
fugitive's attention was arrested by a light gleaming from 
the open window of Madame L'Espanaye's chamber, in 
the fourth story of her house. Rushing to the building, 
it perceived the lightning-rod, clambered up with incon- 
ceivable agility, grasped the shutter, which was thrown 
fully back against the wall, and, by its means, swung it- 
self directly upon the headboard of the bed. The whole 
feat did not occupy a minute. The shutter was kicked 
open again by the Ourang-Outang as it entered the room. 

The sailor, in the meantime, was both rejoiced and per- 
plexed. He had strong hopes of now recapturing the 
brute, as it could scarcely escape from the trap into which 
it had ventured except by the rod, where it might be inter- 
cepted as it came down. On the other hand, there was 
much cause for anxiety as to what it might do in the 
house. This latter reflection urged the man to still follow 
the fugitive. A lightning-rod is ascended without diffi- 
culty, especially by a sailor, but when he had arrived as 
high as the window, which lay far to his left, his career 
was stopped; the most that he could accomplish was to 
reach over so as to obtain a glimpse of the interior of the 


room. At this glimpse he nearly fell from his hold 
through excess of horror. Now it was that those hideous 
shrieks arose upon the night which had startled from 
slumber the inmates of the Rue Morgue. Madame L’Es- 
panaye and her daughter, habited in their night-clothes, 
had apparently been occupied in arranging some papers in 
the iron chest already mentioned, which had been wheeled 
into the middle of the room. It was open and its con- 
tents lay beside it on the floor. The victims must have 
been sitting with their backs towards the window, and 
from the time elapsing between the ingress of the beast 
and the screams it seems probable that it was not imme- 
diately perceived. The flapping to of the shutter would 
naturally have been attributed to the wind. 

As the sailor looked in, the gigantic animal had seized 
Madame L’Espanaye by the hair (which was loose, as she 
had been combing it), and was flourishing the razor about 
her face in imitation of the motions of a barber. The 
daughter lay prostrate and motionless; she had swooned. 
The screams and struggles of the old lady (during which 
the hair was torn from her head) had the effect of 
changing the probably pacific purposes of the Ourang- 
outang into those of wrath. With one determined sweep 
of its muscular arm it nearly severed her head from her 
body. The sight of blood inflamed its anger into frenzy. 
Gnashing its teeth and flashing fire from its eyes, it flew 
upon the body of the girl and imbedded its fearful talons 
in her throat, retaining its grasp until she expired. Its 
wandering and wild glances fell at this moment upon the 
head of the bed, over which the face of its master, rigid 
with horror, was just discernible. The fury of the beast, 
which no doubt bore still in mind the dreaded whip, was 
instantly converted into fear. Conscious of having de- 
served punishment, it seemed desirous of concealing its 
bloody deeds, and skipped about the chamber in an agony 
of nervous agitation, throwing down and breaking the 



furniture as it moved and dragging the bed from the bed- 
stead. In conclusion, it seized first the corpse of the 
daughter and thrust it up the chimney, as it was found; 
then that of the old lady, which it immediately hurled 
through the window headlong. 

As the ape approached the casement with its mutilated 
burden the sailor shrank aghast to the rod, and, rather 
gliding than clambering down it, hurried at once home, 
dreading the consequences of the butchery and gladly 
abandoning, in his terror, all solicitude about the fate of 
the Ourang-outang. The words heard by the party upon 
the staircase were the Frenchman’s exclamations of hor- 
ror and affright, commingled with the fiendish jabberings 
of the brute. 

I have scarcely anything to add. The Ourang-outang 
must have escaped from the chamber by the rod just be- 
fore the breaking of the door. It must have closed the 
window as it passed through it. It was subsequently 
caught by the owner himself, who obtained for it a very 
large sum at the Jardin des Plantes . Lebon was instantly 
released upon our narration of the circumstances (with 
some comments from Dupin) at the bureau of the Prefect 
of Police. This functionary, however well disposed to 
my friend, could not altogether conceal his chagrin at the 
turn which affairs had taken and was fain to indulge in a 
sarcasm or two about the propriety of every person mind- 
ing his own business. 

“Let him talk,” said Dupin, who had not thought it 
necessary to reply. “Let him discourse; it will ease his 
conscience. I am satisfied with having defeated him in 
his own castle. Nevertheless, that he failed in the solu- 
tion of this mystery is by no means that matter for won- 
der which he supposes it, for, in truth, our friend the 
Prefect is somewhat too cunning to be profound. In his 
wisdom is no stamen . It is all head and no body, like the 
pictures of the Goddess La verna — or, at best, all head 


and shoulders, like a codfish. But he is a good creature 
after all. I like him especially for one master-stroke of 
cant, by which he has attained his reputation for ingenu- 
ity. I mean the way he has ‘de nier ce qui est, et d’ex- 
pliquer ce qui n’est pas / ” 



There are few persons, even among the calmest think- 
ers, who have not occasionally been startled into a vague 
yet thrilling half-credence in the supernatural, by coinci- 
dences of so seemingly marvelous a character that, as 
mere coincidences, the intellect has been unable to receive 
them. Such sentiments — for the half-credences of which 
I speak have never the full force of thought — such senti- 
ments are seldom thoroughly stifled unless by reference to 
the doctrine of chance, or, as it is technically termed, the 
Calculus of Probabilities. Now this Calculus is in its 
essence purely mathematical ; and thus we have the 
anomaly of the most rigidly exact in science applied to 
the shadow and spirituality of the most intangible in 

The extraordinary details which I am now called 
upon to make public will be found to form, as regards 
sequence of time, the primary branch of a series of 
scarcely intelligible coincidences , whose secondary or con- 
cluding branch will be recognized by all readers in the late 
murder of Mary Cecilia Rogers, at New York. 

When, in an article entitled “The Murders in the Rue 
Morgue,” I endeavored, about a year ago, to depict some 
very remarkable features in the mental character of my 
friend, the Chevalier C. Auguste Dupin, it did not occur 
to me that I should ever resume the subject. This depict- 
ing of character constituted my design; and this design 
was thoroughly fulfilled in the wild train of circumstances 
brought to instance Dupin’s idiosyncrasy. I might have 




adduced other examples, but I should have proved no 
more. Late events, however, in their surprising develop- 
ment, have startled me into some further details, which 
will carry with them the air of extorted confession. 
Hearing what I have lately heard, it would be indeed 
strange should I remain silent in regard to what I both 
heard and saw so long ago. 

Upon the winding up of the tragedy involved in the 
deaths of Madame L’Espanaye and her daughter, the 
Chevalier dismissed the affair at once from his attention, 
and relapsed into his old habits of moody reverie. Prone, 
at all times, to abstraction, I readily fell in with his 
humor; and continuing to occupy our chambers in the 
Faubourg Saint Germain, we gave the Future to the 
winds, and slumbered tranquilly in the Present, weaving 
the dull world around us into dreams. 

But these dreams were not altogether uninterrupted. 
It may readily be supposed that the part played by my 
friend in the drama at the Rue Morgue had not failed of 
its impression upon the fancies of the Parisian police. 
With its emissaries, the name of Dupin had grown into a 
household word. The simple character of those induc- 
tions by which he had disentangled the mystery never 
having been explained even to the Prefect, or to any other 
individual than myself, of course it is not surprising that 
the affair was regarded as little less than miraculous, or 
that the Chevalier’s analytical abilities acquired for him 
the credit of intuition. His frankness would have led him 
to disabuse every inquirer of such prejudice; but his in- 
dolent humor forbade all further agitation of a topic 
whose interest to himself had long ceased. It thus hap- 
pened that he found himself the cynosure of the policial 
eyes ; and the cases were not few in which attempt was 
made to engage his services at the Prefecture. One of 
the most remarkable instances was that of the murder of a 
young girl named Marie Roget. 



This event occurred about two years after the atrocity 
in the Rue Morgue. Marie, whose Christian and family 
name will at once arrest attention from their resemblance 
to those of the unfortunate “cigar-girl,” was the only 
daughter of the widow Estelle Roget. The father had 
died during the child's infancy, and from the period of 
his death, until within eighteen months before the assassi- 
nation which forms the subject of our narrative, the 
mother and daughter had dwelt together in the Rue Pavee 
Sainte Andree ; Madame there keeping a pension, assisted 
by Marie. Affairs went on thus until the latter had at- 
tained her twenty-second year, when her great beauty at- 
tracted the notice of a perfumer, who occupied one of the 
shops in the basement of the Palais Royal, and whose cus- 
tom lay chiefly among the desperate adventurers infesting 
that neighborhood. Monsieur Le Blanc was not unaware 
of the advantages to be derived from the attendance of 
the fair Marie in his perfumery ; and his liberal proposals 
were accepted eagerly by the girl, although with somewhat 
more of hesitation by Madame. 

The anticipations of the shopkeeper were realized, and 
his rooms soon became notorious through the charms of 
the sprightly grisette. She had been in his employ about 
a year, when her admirers were thrown into confusion by 
her sudden disappearance from the shop. Monsieur Le 
Blanc was unable to account for her absence, and Madame 
Roget was distracted with anxiety and terror. The public 
papers immediately took up the theme, and the police were 
upon the point of making serious investigations, when, 
one fine morning, after the lapse of a week, Marie, in 
good health, but with a somewhat saddened air, made her 
reappearance at her usual counter in the perfumery. All 
inquiry, except that of a private character, was of course 
immediately hushed. Monsieur Le Blanc professed total 
ignorance, as before. Marie, with Madame, replied to 
all questions, that the last week had been spent at the 


house of a relation in the country. Thus the affair died 
away and was generally forgotten, for the girl, ostensibly 
to relieve herself from the impertinence of curiosity, soon 
bade a final adieu to the perfumer, and sought the shelter 
of her mother’s residence in the Rue Pavee St. Andree. 

It was about five months after this return home, that 
her friends were alarmed by her sudden disappearance 
for the second time. Three days elapsed, and nothing 
was heard of her. On the fourth her corpse was found 
floating in the Seine, near the shore which is opposite the 
Quartier of the Rue Sainte Andree, and at a point not 
very far distant from the secluded neighborhood of the 
Barriere du Roule. 

The atrocity of this murder (for it was at once evident 
that murder had been committed), the youth and beauty 
of the victim, and, above all, her previous notoriety, con- 
spired to produce intense excitement in the minds of the 
sensitive Parisians. I can call to mind no similar occur- 
rence producing so general and so intense an effect. For 
several weeks, in the discussion of this one absorbing 
theme, even the momentous political topics of the day 
were forgotten. The Prefect made unusual exertions; 
and the powers of the whole Parisian police were of 
course tasked to the utmost extent. 

Upon the first discovery of the corpse it was not sup- 
posed that the murderer would be able to elude for more 
than a very brief period the inquisition which was imme- 
diately set on foot. It was not until the expiration of a 
week that it was deemed necessary to offer a reward ; and 
even then this reward was limited to a thousand francs. 
In the meantime the investigation proceeded with vigor, 
if not always with judgment, and numerous individuals 
were examined to no purpose; while, owing to the con- 
tinued absence of all clue to the mystery, the popular ex- 
citement greatly increased. At the end of the tenth day 
it was thought advisable to double the sum originally pro- 



posed; and, at length, the second week having elapsed 
without leading to any discoveries, and the prejudice 
which always exists in Paris against the Police having 
given vent to itself in several serious emeutes , the Prefect 
took it upon himself to offer the sum of twenty thousand 
francs “for the conviction of the assassin/’ or, if more 
than one should prove to have been implicated, “for the 
conviction of any one of the assassins/’ In the procla- 
mation setting forth this reward, a full pardon was 
promised to any accomplice who should come for- 
ward in evidence against his fellow; and to the whole 
was appended, wherever it appeared, the private placard 
of a committee of citizens, offering ten thousand francs 
in addition to the amount proposed by the Prefecture. 
The entire reward thus stood at no less than thirty thous- 
and francs, which will be regarded as an extraordinary 
sum when we consider the humble condition of the girl 
and the great frequency in large cities of such atrocities 
as the one described. 

No one doubted now that the mystery of this murder 
would be immediately brought to light. But although, in 
one or two instances, arrests were made which promised 
elucidation, yet nothing was elicited which could implicate 
the parties suspected, and they were discharged forth- 
with. Strange as it may appear, the third week from the 
discovery of the body had passed, and passed without any 
light being thrown upon the subject, before even a rumor 
of the events which had so agitated the public mind 
reached the ears of Dupin and myself. Engaged in re- 
searches which had absorbed our whole attention, it had 
been nearly a month since either of us had gone abroad, 
or received a visitor, or more than glanced at the lead- 
ing political articles in one of the daily papers. The first 

intelligence of the murder was brought us by G , in 

person. He called upon us early in the afternoon of the 
thirteenth of July, 18 — , and remained with us until late 


in the night. He had been piqued by the failure of all his 
endeavors to ferret out the assassins. His reputation — so 
he said with a peculiarly Parisian air — was at stake. Even 
his honor was concerned. The eyes of the public were 
upon him; and there was really no sacrifice which he 
would not be willing to make for the development of the 
mystery. He concluded a somewhat droll speech with a 
compliment upon what he was pleased to term the tact 
of Dupin, and made him a direct and certainly a liberal 
proposition, the precise nature of which I do not feel my- 
self at liberty to disclose, but which has no bearing upon 
the proper subject of my narrative. 

The compliment my friend rebutted as best he could, 
but the proposition he accepted at once, although its ad- 
vantages were altogether provisional. This point being 
settled, the Prefect broke forth at once into explanations 
of his own views, interspersing them with long comments 
upon the evidence; of which latter we were not yet in 
possession. He discoursed much, and, beyond doubt, 
learnedly; while I hazarded an occasional suggestion as 
the night wore drowsily away. Dupin, sitting steadily in 
his accustomed armchair, was the embodiment of respect- 
ful attention. He wore spectacles during the whole inter- 
view, and an occasional glance beneath their green glasses 
sufficed to convince me that he slept not the less soundly, 
because silently, throughout the seven or eight leaden- 
footed hours which immediately preceded the departure 
of the Prefect. 

In the morning I procured at the Prefecture a full re- 
port of all the evidence elicited, and, at the various news- 
paper offices, a copy of every paper in which, from first 
to last, had been published any decisive information in 
regard to this sad affair. Freed from all that was posi- 
tively disproved, this mass of information stood thus : 

Marie Roget left the residence of her mother, in the 
Rue Pavee Ste. Andree, about nine o'clock in the morn- 



in g of Sunday, June the twenty-second, 18 — . In going 
out, she gave notice to a Monsieur Jacques St. Eustache, 
and to him only, of her intention to spend the day with 
an aunt who resided in the Rue des Dromes. The Rue 
des Dromes is a short and narrow but populous thorough- 
1 fare, not far from the banks of the river, and at a distance 
of some two miles, in the most direct course possible from 
the pension of Madame Roget. St. Eustache was the 
j accepted suitor of Marie, and lodged, as well as took his 
i meals, at the pension . He was to have gone for his be- 
trothed at dusk, and to have escorted her home. In the 
afternoon, however, it came on to rain heavily; and, sup- 
posing that she would remain all night at her aunt's (as 
she had done under similar circumstances before), he did 
not think it necessary to keep his promise. As night drew 
on, Madame Roget (who was an infirm old lady, seventy 
years of age) was heard to express a fear “that she should 
never see Marie again"; but this observation attracted 
little attention at the time. 

On Monday, it was ascertained that the girl had not 
been to the Rue des Dromes; and when the day elapsed 
without tidings of her a tardy search was instituted at 
several points in the city and its environs. It was not, 
however, until the fourth day from the period of her dis- 
appearance that anything satisfactory was ascertained re- 
specting her. On this day (Wednesday, the twenty-fifth 
of June), a Monsieur Beauvais, who, with a friend, had 
been making inquiries for Marie near the Barriere du 
Roule, on the shore of the Seine which is opposite the 
Rue Pavee Ste. Andree, was informed that a corpse had 
just been towed ashore by some fishermen, who had found 
it floating in the river. Upon seeing the body, Beauvais, 
’after some hesitation, identified it as that of the per- 
fumery-girl. His friend recognized it more promptly. 

The face was suffused with dark blood, some of which 
issued from the mouth. No foam was seen, as in the case 


of the merely drowned. There was no discoloration in the 
cellular tissue. About the throat were bruises and im- 
pressions of fingers. The arms were bent over on the 
chest and were rigid. The right hand was clenched ; the 
left partially open. On the left wrist were two circular 
excoriations, apparently the effect of ropes, or of a rope in 
more than one volution. A part of the right wrist, also, 
was much chafed, as well as the back throughout its ex- 
tent, but more especially at the shoulder-blades. In bring- 
ing the body to the shore the fishermen had attached to it 
a rope, but none of the excoriations had been effected by 
this. The flesh of the neck was much swollen. There 
were no cuts apparent, or bruises which appeared the ef- 
fect of blows. A piece of lace was found tied so tightly 
around the neck as to be hidden from sight; it was com- 
pletely buried in the flesh, and was fastened by a knot 
which lay just under the left ear. This alone would have 
sufficed to produce death. The medical testimony spoke 
confidently of the virtuous character of the deceased. 
She had been subjected, it said, to brutal violence. The 
corpse was in such condition when found that there could 
have been no difficulty in its recognition by friends. 

The dress was much torn and otherwise disordered. 
In the outer garment a slip, about a foot wide, had been 
torn upward from the bottom hem to the waist, but not 
torn off. It was wound three times around the waist, and 
secured by a sort of hitch in the back. The dress imme- 
diately beneath the frock was of fine muslin; and from 
this a slip eighteen inches wide had been torn entirely out 
— torn very evenly and with great care. It was found 
around her neck, fitting loosely, and secured with a hard 
knot. Over this muslin slip and the slip of lace, the 
strings of a bonnet were attached; the bonnet being ap- 
pended. The knot by which the strings of the bonnet 
were fastened was not a lady's but a slip or sailor's knot. 

After the recognition of the corpse, it was not, as usual, 



taken to the Morgue (this formality being superfluous), 
but hastily interred not far from the spot at which it was 
brought ashore. Through the exertions of Beauvais, the 
matter was industriously hushed up, as far as possible; 
and several days had elapsed before any public emotion 
resulted. A weekly paper, however, at length, took up 
the theme ; the corpse was disinterred, and a re-examina- 
tion instituted, but nothing was elicited beyond what has 
been already noted. The clothes, however, were now 
submitted to the mother and friends of the deceased, and 
fully identified as those worn by the girl upon leaving 

Meantime, the excitement increased hourly. Several 
individuals were arrested and discharged. St. Eustache 
fell especially under suspicion; and he failed at first to 
give an intelligible account of his whereabouts during the 
Sunday on which Marie left home. Subsequently, how- 
ever, he submitted to Monsieur G affidavits, account- 

ing satisfactorily for every hour of the day in question. 
As time passed and no discovery ensued, a thousand con- 
tradictory rumors were circulated, and journalists busied 
themselves in suggestions . Among these, the one which 
attracted the most notice was the idea that Marie Roget 
still lived — that the corpse found in the Seine was that of 
some other unfortunate. It will be proper that I submit 
to the reader some passages which embody the suggestion 
alluded to. These passages are literal translations from 
“L’Etoile,” a paper conducted, in general, with much 

“Mademoiselle Roget left her mother’s house on Sunday morn- 
ing, June the twenty-second, 18 — , with the ostensible purpose of 
going to see her aunt, or some other connection, in the Rue des 
Dromes. From that hour nobody is proved to have seen her. 
There is no trace or tidings of her at all. . . . There has no 
person whatever come forward so far, who saw her at all on that 
day after she left her mother's door. . . . Now, though we 


have no evidence that Marie Roget was in the land of the living 
after nine o’clock on Sunday, June the twenty-second, we have 
proof that up to that hour she was alive. On Wednesday at noon, 
a female body was discovered afloat on the shore of the Barriere 
du Roule. This was, even if we presume that Marie Roget was 
thrown into the river within three hours after she left her mother’s 
house, only three days from the time she left her home — three 
days to an hour. But it is folly to suppose that the murder, if 
murder was committed on her body, could have been consum- 
mated soon enough to have enabled her murderers to throw the 
body into the river before midnight. Those who are guilty of 
such horrid crimes choose darkness rather than light. . . . 

Thus we see that if the body found in the river- was that of 
Marie Roget, it could only have been in the water two and a half 
days, or three at the outside. All experience had shown that 
drowned bodies, or bodies thrown into the water immediately 
after death by violence, require from six to ten days for sufficient 
decomposition to take place to bring them to the top of the water. 
Even where a cannon is fired over a corpse, and it rises before at 
least five or six days’ immersion, it sinks again, if let alone. Now, 
we ask, what was there in this case to cause a departure from 
the ordinary course of nature? ... If the body had been 
kept in its mangled state on shore until Tuesday night, some 
trace would be found on shore of the murderers. It is a doubtful 
point, also, whether the body would be so soon afloat, even were 
it thrown in after having been dead two days. And, furthermore, 
it is exceedingly improbable that any villains who had committed 
such a murder as is here supposed would have thrown the body in 
without weight to sink it, when such a precaution could have so 
easily been taken.” 

The editor here proceeds to argue that the body must 
have been in the water “not three days merely, but at least 
five times three days,” because it was so far decomposed 
that Beauvais had great difficulty in recognizing it. This 
latter point, however, was fully disproved. I continue the 
translation : 

“What, then, are the facts on which M. Beauvais says that he 
has no doubt the body was that of Marie Roget? He ripped 
up the gown-sleeve, and says he found marks which satisfied him 
of the identity. The public generally supposed those marks to 


have consisted of some description of scars. He rubbed the arm 
and found hair upon it — something as indefinite, we think, as can 
readily be imagined — as little conclusive as finding an arm in the 
sleeve. M. Beauvais did not return that night, but sent word to 
Madame Roget at seven o’clock on Wednesday evening that an 
investigation was still in progress respecting her daughter. If 
we allow that Madame Roget from her age and grief could not 
go over (which is allowing a great deal), there certainly must 
have been some one who would have thought it worth while to go 
over and attend the investigation if they thought the body was 
that of Marie. Nobody went over. There was nothing said or 
heard about the matter in the Rue Pavee Ste. Andree that reached 
even the occupants of the same building. M. St. Eustache, the 
lover and intended husband of Marie, who boarded in her mother’s 
house, deposes that he did not hear of the discovery of the body 
of his intended until the next morning, when M. Beauvais came 
into his chamber and told him of it. For an item of news like 
this, it strikes us it was very coolly received.” 

In this way the journal endeavored to create the im- 
pression of an apathy on the part of the relatives of 
Marie, inconsistent with the supposition that these rela- 
tives believed the corpse to be hers. Its insinuations 
amount to this: — that Marie, with the connivance of her 
friends, had absented herself from the city for reasons 
involving a charge against her chastity, and that these 
friends, upon the discovery of a corpse in the Seine, 
somewhat resembling that of the girl, had availed them- 
selves of the opportunity to impress the public with the 
belief of her death. But “L’Etoile” was again over-hasty. 
It was distinctly proved that no apathy, such as was 
imagined, existed : that the old lady was exceedingly 
feeble, and so agitated as to be unable to attend to any 
duty: that St. Eustache, so far from receiving the news 
coolly, was distracted with grief and bore himself so fran- 
tically that M. Beauvais prevailed upon a friend and rela- 
tive to take charge of him, and prevent his attending the 
examination at the disinterment. Moreover, although it 
was stated by “L’Etoile” that the corpse was reinterred 


at the public expense — that an advantageous offer of pri- 
vate sepulture was absolutely declined by the family — and 
that no member of the family attended the ceremonial : — 
although, I say, all this was asserted by “L’Etoile” in 
furtherance of the impression it designed to convey — yet 
all this was satisfactorily disproved. In a subsequent 
number of the paper, an attempt was made to throw sus- 
picion upon Beauvais himself. The editor says: 

“Now, then, a change comes over the matter. We are told that 

on one occasion, while a Madame B was at Madame Roget’s 

house, M. Beauvais, who was going out, told her that a gendarme 

was expected there, and that she, Madame B , must not say 

anything to the gendarme until he returned, but let the matter 
be for him. ... In the present posture of affairs M. Beauvais 
appears to have the whole matter locked up in his head. A single 
step cannot be taken without M. Beauvais, for go which way you 
will you run against him. . . . For some reason he determined 

that nobody shall have anything to do with the proceedings but 
himself, and he has elbowed the male relatives out of the way, 
according to their representations, in a very singular manner. He 
seems to have been very much averse to permitting the relatives 
to see the body.” 

By the following fact some color was given to the sus- 
picion thus thrown upon Beauvais. A visitor at his office 
a few days prior to the girl’s disappearance, and during 
the absence of its occupant, had observed a rose in the 
keyhole of the door, and the name “Marie” inscribed upon 
a slate which hung near at hand. 

The general impression, so far as we were enabled to 
glean it from the newspapers, seemed to be that Marie 
had been the victim of a gang of desperadoes — that by 
these she had been borne across the river, maltreated, and 
murdered. “Le Commercial,” however, a print of exten- 
sive influence, was earnest in combating this popular idea. 
I quote a passage or two from its columns: 

“We are persuaded that pursuit has hitherto been on a false 
scent, so far as it has been directed to the Barriere du Roule. It 
is impossible that a person so well known to thousands as this 



young woman was should have passed three blocks without some 
one having seen her; and any one who saw her would have re- 
membered it, for she interested all who knew her. It was when 
the streets were full of people that she went out. ... It is im- 
possible that she could have gone to the Barriere du Roule or to 
the Rue des Dromes without being recognized by a dozen persons, 
yet no one has come forward who saw her outside of her mother’s 
door, and there is no evidence, except the testimony concerning 
her expressed intentions, that she did go out at all. Her gown 
was torn, bound round her, and tied, and by that the body was 
carried as a bundle. If the murder had been committed at the 
Barriere du Roule there would have been no necessity for any 
such arrangement. The fact that the body was found floating 
near the Barriere is no proof as to where it was thrown into the 
water. ... A piece of one of the unfortunate girl’s petticoats, 
two feet long and one foot wide, was torn out and tied under her 
chin around the back of her head, probably to prevent screams. 
This was done by fellows who had no pocket-handkerchiefs.” 

A day or two before the Prefect called upon us, how- 
ever, some important information reached the police, 
which seemed to overthrow, at least, the chief portion of 
“Le Commerciars” argument. Two small boys, sons of a 
Madame Deluc, while roaming among the woods near the 
Barriere du Roule, chanced to penetrate a close thicket, 
within which were three or four large stones, forming a 
kind of seat, with back and footstool. On the upper stone 
lay a white petticoat, on the second a silk scarf. A para- 
sol, gloves, and a pocket-handkerchief were also here 
found. The handkerchief bore the name “Marie Roget.” 
Fragments of dress were discovered on the brambles 
around. The earth was trampled, the bushes were broken, 
and there was every evidence of a struggle. Between the 
thicket and the river the fences were found taken down 
and the ground bore evidence of some heavy burthen hav- 
ing been dragged along it. 

A weekly paper, “Le Soled,” had the following com- 
ments upon this discovery — comments which merely 
echoed the sentiment of the whole Parisian press : 


“The things had all evidently been there at least three or four 
weeks ; they were all mildewed down hard with the action of the 
rain, and stuck together from mildew. The grass had grown 
around and over some of them. The silk on the parasol was 
strong, but the threads of it were run together within. The upper 
part, where it had been doubled and folded, was all mildewed and 
rotten, and tore on its being opened. . . . The pieces of her 
frock torn out by the bushes were about three inches wide and 
six inches long. One part was the hem of the frock, and it had 
been mended; the other piece was part of the skirt, not the hem. 
They looked like strips torn off, and were on the thorn bush, about 
a foot from the ground. . . . There can be no doubt, therefore, 
that the spot of this appalling outrage has been discovered.” 

Consequent upon this discovery, new evidence ap- 
peared. Madame Deluc testified that she keeps a road- 
side inn not far from the bank of the river, opposite the 
Barriere du Roule. The neighborhood is secluded — par- 
ticularly so. It is the usual Sunday resort of blackguards 
from the city, who cross the river in boats. About three 
o’clock in the afternoon of the Sunday in question a 
young girl arrived at the inn accompanied by a 
young man of dark complexion. The two remained 
here for some time. On their departure, they took 
the road to some thick woods in the vicinity. Madame 
Deluc’s attention was called to the dress worn by the girl 
on account of its resemblance to one worn by a deceased 
relative. A scarf was particularly noticed. Soon after 
the departure of the couple a gang of miscreants made 
their appearance, behaved boisterously, ate and drank 
without making payment, followed in the route of the 
young man and girl, returned to the inn about dusk, and 
recrossed the river as if in great haste. 

It was soon after dark, upon this same evening, that 
Madame Deluc, as well as her eldest son, heard the screams 
of a female in the vicinity of the inn. The screams were 
violent but brief. Madame D. recognized not only the 
scarf which was found in the thicket, but the dress which 



was discovered upon the corpse. An omnibus-driver, 
Valence, now also testified that he saw Marie Roget cross 
a ferry on the Seine, on the Sunday in question, in com- 
pany with a young man of dark complexion. He, Valence, 
knew Marie, and could not be mistaken in her identity. The 
articles found in the thicket were fully identified by the 
relatives of Marie. 

The items of evidence and information thus collected 
by myself from the newspapers, at the suggestion of 
Dupin, embraced only one more point — but this was a 
point of seemingly vast consequence. It appears that, im- 
mediately after the discovery of the clothes as above de- 
scribed, the lifeless, or nearly lifeless, body of St. Eus- 
tache, Marie's betrothed, was found in the vicinity of 
what all now supposed the scene of the outrage. A phial 
labeled “laudanum,” and emptied, was found near him. 
His breath gave evidence of the poison. He died with- 
out speaking. Upon his person was found a letter, briefly 
stating his love for Marie, with his design of self-destruc- 

“I need scarcely tell you,” said Dupin, as he finished the 
perusal of my notes, “that this is a far more intricate 
case than that of the Rue Morgue, from which it differs 
in one important respect. This is an ordinary, although 
an atrocious, instance of crime. There is nothing pecu- 
liarly outre about it. You will observe that, for this rea- 
son, the mystery has been considered easy, when, for this 
reason, it should have been considered difficult of solution. 
Thus, at first, it was thought unnecessary to offer a re- 
ward. The myrmidons of G were able at once to com- 

prehend how and why such an atrocity might have been 
committed. They could picture to their imaginations a 
mode — many modes, and a motive — many motives; and 
because it was not impossible that either of these numer- 
ous modes and motives could have been the actual one, 
they have taken it for granted that one of them must. 


But the ease with which these variable fancies were enter- 
tained, and the very plausibility which each assumed, 
should have been understood as indicative rather of the 
difficulties than of the facilities which must attend eluci- 
dation. I have before observed that it is by prominences 
above the plane of the ordinary, that reason feels her way, 
if at all, in her search for the true, and that the proper 
question in cases such as this, is not so much ‘what has 
occurred?’ as ‘what has occurred that has never occurred 
before?’ In the investigations at the house of Madame 

L’Espanaye, the agents of G were discouraged and 

confounded by that very unusualness which, to a properly 
regulated intellect, would have afforded the surest omen of 
success ; while this same intellect might have been plunged in 
despair at the ordinary character of all that met the eye in 
the case of the perfumery-girl, and yet told of nothing but 
easy triumph to the functionaries of the Prefecture. 

“In the case of Madame L’Espanaye and her daughter, 
there was, even at the beginning of our investigation, no 
doubt that murder had been committed. The idea of 
suicide was excluded at once. Here, too, we are freed 
at the commencement from all supposition of self-murder. 
The body found at the Barriere du Roule was found 
under such circumstances as to leave us no room for em- 
barrassment upon this important point. But it has been 
suggested that the corpse discovered is not that of the 
Marie Roget, for the conviction of whose assassin, or as- 
sassins, the reward is offered, and respecting whom, 
solely, our agreement has been arranged with the Prefect. 
We both know this gentleman well. It will not do to 
trust him too far. If, dating our inquiries from the body 
found, and then tracing a murderer, we yet discover this 
body to be that of some other individual than Marie ; or, 
if starting from the living Marie, we find her, yet find her 
unassassinated — in either case we lose our labor, since it 
is Monsieur with whom we have to deal. For our 



own purpose, therefore, if not for the purpose of justice, 
it is indispensable that our first step should be the deter- 
mination of the identity of the corpse with the Marie 
Roget who is missing. 

“With the public the arguments of ‘L’Etoile’ have had 
weight; and that the journal itself is convinced of their 
importance would appear from the manner in which it 
commences one of its essays upon the subject — ‘Several 
of the morning papers of the day,’ it says, ‘speak of the 
conclusive article in Monday’s “Etoile.” ’ To me this 
article appears conclusive of little beyond the zeal of its 
inditer. We should bear in mind, that in general it is the 
object of our newspapers rather to create a sensation — 
to make a point — than to further the cause of truth. The 
latter end is only pursued when it seems coincident with 
the former. The print which merely falls in with ordi- 
nary opinion (however well founded this opinion may be) 
earns for itself no credit with the mob. The mass of the 
people regard as profound only him who suggests pungent 
contradictions of the general idea. In ratiocination, not 
less than in literature, it is the epigram which is the most 
immediately and the most universally appreciated. In 
both, it is of the lowest order of merit. 

“What I mean to say is, that it is the mingled epigram 
and the melodrame of the idea, that Marie Roget still 
lives, rather than any true plausibility in this idea, which 
have suggested it to ‘L’Etoile,’ and secured it a favorable 
reception with the public. Let us examine the heads of 
this journal’s argument, endeavoring to avoid the inco- 
herence with which it is originally set forth. 

“The first aim of the writer is to show, from the brevity 
of the interval between Marie’s disappearance and the 
finding of the floating corpse, that this corpse cannot be 
that of Marie. The reduction of this interval to its small- 
est possible dimension, becomes thus, at once, an object 
with the reasoner. In the rash pursuit of this object he 


rushes into mere assumption at the outset. ‘It is folly to 
suppose/ he says, ‘that the murder, if murder was com- 
mitted on her body, could have been consummated soon 
enough to have enabled her murderer, to throw the body 
into the river before midnight. We demand at once, and 
very naturally, why? Why is it folly to suppose that the 
murder was committed within five minutes after the girl’s 
quitting her mother’s house? Why is it folly to suppose 
that the murder was committed at any given period of the 
day? There have been assassinations at all hours. But, 
had the murder taken place at any moment between nine 
o’clock in the morning of Sunday and a quarter before 
midnight, there would still have been time enough ‘to 
throw the body into the river before midnight.’ This as- 
sumption, then, amounts precisely to this — that the mur- 
der was not committed on Sunday at all ; and, if we allow 
‘L’Etoile’ to assume this, we may permit it any liberties 
whatever. The paragraph beginning, ‘It is folly to sup- 
pose that the murder,’ etc., however it appears as printed 
in ‘L’Etoile,’ may be imagined to have existed actually 
thus in the brain of its inditer — ‘It is folly to suppose that 
the murder, if murder was committed on the body, could 
have been committed soon enough to have enabled her 
murderers to throw the body into the river before mid- 
night. It is folly, we say, to suppose all this, and to pur- 
pose at the same time (as we are resolved to suppose), 
that the body was not thrown in until after midnight’ — a 
sentence sufficiently inconsequential in itself, but not so 
utterly preposterous as the one printed. 

“Were it my purpose,” continued Dupin, “merely to 
make out a case against this passage of ‘L’Etoile’s’ argu- 
ment, I might safely leave it where it is. It is not, how- 
ever, with ‘L’Etoile’ that we have to do, but with the 
truth. The sentence in question has but one meaning as 
it stands, and this meaning I have fairly stated ; but it is 
material that we go behind the mere words for an idea 



which these words have obviously intended — and failed — 
to convey. It was the design of the journalist to say that, 
at whatever period of the day or night of Sunday this 
murder was committed, it was improbable that the as- 
sassins would have ventured to bear the corpse to the river 
before midnight. And herein lies really the assumption 
of which I complain. It is assumed that the murder was 
committed at such a position, and under such circum- 
stances, that the bearing it to the river became necessary. 
Now, the assassination might have taken place upon the 
river’s brink or on the river itself ; and thus the throw- 
ing the corpse in the water might have been resorted to 
at any period of the day or night as the most obvious 
and most immediate mode of disposal. You will under- 
stand that I suggest nothing here as probable, or as coin- 
cident with my own opinion. My design, so far, has no 
reference to the facts of the case. I wish merely to cau- 
tion you against the whole tone of ‘L’Etoile’s’ suggestion , 
by calling your attention to its ex parte character at the 

“Having prescribed thus a limit to suit its own precon- 
ceived notions; having assumed that, if this were the body 
of Marie, it could have been in the water but a very brief 
time ; the journal goes on to say: 

“ ‘All experience has shown that drowned bodies, or bodies 
thrown into the water immediately after death by violence, re- 
quire from six to ten days for sufficient decomposition to take 
place to bring them to the top of the water. Even when a cannon 
is fired over a corpse, and it rises before at least five or six days’ 
immersion, it sinks again if let alone.” 

“These assertions have been tacitly received by every 
paper in Paris with the exception of ‘Le Moniteur.’ This 
latter print endeavors to combat that portion of the para- 
graph which has reference to ‘drowned bodies’ only, by 
citing some five or six instances in which the bodies of 


individuals known to be drowned were found floating 
after the lapse of less time than is insisted upon by 
‘L'Etoile/ But there is something excessively unphilo- 
sophical in the attempt on the part of ‘Le Moniteur' to re- 
but the general assertion of ‘L'Etoile/ by a citation of 
particular instances militating against that assertion. Had 
it been possible to adduce fifty instead of five examples 
of bodies found floating at the end of two or three days, 
these fifty examples could still have been properly re- 
garded only as exceptions to ‘L'Etoile's' rule until such 
time as the rule itself should be confuted. Admitting the 
rule (and this ‘Le Moniteur' does not deny, insisting 
merely upon its exceptions), the argument of ‘L'Etoile' is 
suffered to remain in full force; for this argument does 
not pretend to involve more than a question of the prob- 
ability of the body having risen to the surface in less than 
three days ; and this probability will be in favor of 
‘L'Etoile's' position until the instances so childishly ad- 
duced shall be sufficient in number to establish an antag- 
onistical rule. 

“You will see at once that all argument upon this head 
should be urged, if at all, against the rule itself ; and for 
this end we must examine the rationale of the rule. Now, 
the human body, in general, is neither much lighter nor 
much heavier than the water of the Seine; that is to say, 
the specific gravity of the human body, in its natural con- 
dition, is about equal to the bulk of fresh water which it 
displaces. The bodies of fat and fleshy persons, with 
small bones, and of women generally, are lighter than 
those of the lean and large-boned, and of men; and the 
specific gravity of the water of a river is somewhat in- 
fluenced by the presence of the tide from sea. But, 
leaving this tide out of question, it may be said that very 
few human bodies will sink at all, even in fresh water, of 
their own accord . Almost any one, falling into a river, 
will be enabled to float, if he suffer the specific gravity of 



the water fairly to be adduced in comparison with his 
own — that is to say, if he suffer his whole person to be 
immersed, with as little exception as possible. The proper 
position for one who cannot swim, is the upright position 
of the walker on land, with the head thrown fully back, 
and immersed; the mouth and nostrils alone remaining 
above the surface. Thus circumstanced, we shall find that 
we float without difficulty and without exertion. It is evi- 
dent, however, that the gravities of the body, and of the 
bulk of water displaced, are very nicely balanced, and that 
a trifle will cause either to preponderate. An arm, for in- 
stance, uplifted from the water, and thus deprived of its 
support, is an additional weight sufficient to immerse the 
whole head, while the accidental aid of the smallest piece 
of timber will enable us to elevate the head so as to look 
about. Now, in the struggles of one unused to swim- 
ming, the arms are invariably thrown upwards, while an 
attempt is made to keep the head in its usual perpendicular 
position. The result is the immersion of the mouth and 
nostrils, and the reception, during efforts to breathe while 
beneath the surface, of water into the lungs. Much is 
also received into the stomach, and the whole body be- 
comes heavier by the difference between the weight of the 
air originally distending these cavities, and that of the 
fluid which now fills them. This difference is sufficient 
to cause the body to sink, as a general rule; but is in- 
sufficient in the cases of individuals with small bones and 
an abnormal quantity of flaccid or fatty matter. Such in- 
dividuals float even after drowning. 

“The corpse, being supposed at the bottom of the river, 
will there remain until, by some means, its specific gravity 
again becomes less than that of the bulk of water which it 
displaces. This effect is brought about by decomposition, or 
otherwise. The result of decomposition is the generation 
of gas, distending the cellular tissues and all the cavities, 
and giving the puffed appearance which is so horrible. 


When this distention has so far progressed that the bulk 
of the corpse is materially increased without a correspond- 
ing increase of mass or weight, its specific gravity be- 
comes less than that of the water displaced, and it forth- 
with makes its appearance at the surface. But decom- 
position is modified by innumerable circumstances — is 
hastened or retarded by innumerable agencies; for ex- 
ample, by the heat or cold of the season, by the mineral 
impregnation or purity of the water, by its depth or shal- 
lowness, by its currency or stagnation, by the tempera- 
ment of the body, by its infection or freedom from dis- 
ease before death. Thus it is evident that we can assign 
no period with anything like accuracy, at which the corpse 
shall rise through decomposition. Under certain condi- 
tions this result would be brought about within an hour; 
under others, it might not take place at all. There are 
chemical infusions by which the animal frame can be pre- 
served forever from corruption; the bichloride of mercury 
is one. But, apart from decomposition, there may be, 
and very usually is, a generation of gas within the stom- 
ach from the acetous fermentation of vegetable matter 
(or within other cavities from other causes) suffi- 
cient to induce a distension which will bring the body to 
the surface. The effect produced by the firing of a cannon 
is that of simple vibration. This may either loosen the 
corpse from the soft mud or ooze in which it is imbedded, 
thus permitting it to rise when other agencies have al- 
ready prepared it for so doing; or it may overcome the 
tenacity of some putrescent portions of the cellular tissue; 
allowing the cavities to distend under the influence of the 

“Having thus before us the whole philosophy of this 
subject, we can easily test by it the assertions of ‘L'Etoile.’ 
‘All experience shows,’ says this paper, ‘that drowned 
bodies, or bodies thrown into the water immediately after 
death by violence, require from six to ten days for suffi- 



cient decomposition to take place to bring them to the top 
of the water. Even when a cannon is fired over a corpse, 
and it rises before at least five or six days' immersion, it 
sinks again if let alone.' 

“The whole of this paragraph must now appear a tissue 
of inconsequence and incoherence. All experience does 
not show that "drowned bodies' require from six to ten 
days for sufficient decomposition to take place to bring 
« them to the surface. Both science and experience show 
that the period of their rising is, and necessarily must be, 
indeterminate. If, moreover, a body has risen to the sur- 
face through firing of cannon, it will not "sink again if let 
alone,’ until decomposition has so far progressed as to 
permit the escape of the generated gas. But I wish to 
call your attention to the distinction which is made be- 
tween "drowned bodies,' and "bodies thrown into the water 
immediately after death by violence.’ Although the writer 
admits the distinction, he yet includes them all in the same 
category. I have showm how it is that the body of a 
drowning man becomes specifically heavier than its bulk 
of water, and that he would not sink at all, except for the 
struggles by which he elevates his arms above the surface, 
and his gasps for breath while beneath the surface — gasps 
which supply by water the place of the original air in the 
lungs. But these struggles and these gasps would not 
occur in the body "thrown into the water immediately 
after death by violence.' Thus, in the latter instance, the 
body, as a general rule, would not sink at all — a fact of 
which "L'Etoile' is evidently ignorant. When decomposi- 
tion had proceeded to a very great extent — when the flesh 
had in a great measure left the bones — then, indeed, but 
not till then, should we lose sight of the corpse. 

""And now what are we to make of the argument that 
the body found could not be that of Marie Roget because, 
three days only having elapsed, this body was found float- 
ing? If drowned, being a woman, she might never have 


sunk; or, having sunk, might have reappeared in twenty- 
four hours, or less. But no one supposes her to have been 
drowned; and, dying before being thrown into the river, 
she might have been found floating at any period after- 
wards whatever. 

“ ‘But/ says ‘L’Etoile/ ‘if the body had been kept in 
its mangled state on shore until Tuesday night, some trace 
would be found on shore of the murderers/ Here it is at 
first difficult to perceive the intention of the reasoner. He 
means to anticipate what he imagines would be an objec- 
tion to his theory — viz., that the body was kept on shore 
two days, suffering rapid decomposition — more rapid than 
if immersed in water. He supposes that, had this been 
the case, it might have appeared at the surface on the 
Wednesday, and thinks that only under such circum- 
stances it could so have appeared. He is accordingly 
in haste to show that it was not kept on shore; for, if so, 
‘some trace would be found on shore of the murderers.’ 
I presume you smile at the sequitur . You cannot be made 
to see how the mere duration of the corpse on the shore 
could operate to multiply traces of the assassins. Nor 
can I. 

“ ‘And, furthermore, it is exceedingly improbable/ con- 
tinues our journal, ‘that any villains who had committed 
such a murder as is here supposed, would have thrown the 
body in without weight to sink it, when such a precau- 
tion could have so easily been taken/ Observe here the 
laughable confusion of thought. No one — not even 
‘L’Etoile’ — disputes the murder committed on the body 
found . The marks of violence are too obvious. It is our 
reasoner’s object merely to show that this body is not 
Marie’s. He wishes to prove that Marie is not assassi- 
nated — not that the corpse was not. Yet his observation 
proves only the latter point. Here is a corpse without 
weight attached. Murderers, casting it in, would not have 
failed to attach a weight. Therefore it was not thrown 



in by murderers. This is all which is proved, if anything 
is. The question of identity is not even approached, and 
'L'Etoile' has been at great pains merely to gainsay now 
what it has admitted only a moment before. ‘We are per- 
fectly convinced,' it says, 'that the body found was that of 
a murdered female.' 

"Nor is this the sole instance, even in this division of 
his subject, where our reasoner unwittingly reasons against 
himself. His evident object, I have already said, is to re- 
duce, as much as possible, the interval between Marie's 
disappearance and the finding of the corpse. Yet we find 
him urging the point that no person saw the girl from the 
moment of her leaving her mother's house. 'We have no 
evidence,' he says, 'that Marie Roget was in the land of 
the living after nine o'clock on Sunday, June the twenty- 
second.' As his argument is obviously an ex parte one, 
he should, at least, have left this matter out of sight; for 
had any one been known to see Marie, say on Monday or 
on Tuesday, the interval in question would have been 
much reduced, and by his own ratiocination, the prob- 
ability much diminished of the corpse being that of the 
grisette . It is, nevertheless, amusing to observe that 
'L'Etoile' insists upon its point in the full belief of its 
furthering its general argument. 

"Reperuse now that portion of this argument which has 
reference to the identification of the corpse by Beauvais. 
In regard to the hair upon the arm, 'L'Etoile' has been 
obviously disingenuous. M. Beauvais, not being an idiot, 
could never have urged, in identification of the corpse, 
simply hair upon its arm. Ne arm is without hair. The 
generality of the expression of 'L'Etoile' is a mere per- 
version of the witness's phraseology. He must have 
spoken of some peculiarity in this hair. It must have been 
a peculiarity of color, of quantity, of length, or of situa- 

“ 'Her foot,’ says the journal, 'was small, — so are thou- 


sands of feet. Her garter is no proof whatever, nor is 
her shoe, for shoes and garters are sold in packages. The 
same may be said of the flowers in her hat. One thing 
upon which M. Beauvais strongly insists is that the clasp 
on the garter found had been set back to take it in. This 
amounts to nothing; for most women find it proper to 
take a pair of garters home and fit them to the size of the 
limbs they are to encircle, rather than to try them in the 
store where they purchase.’ Here it is difficult to sup- 
pose the reasoner in earnest. Had M. Beauvais, in his 
search for the body of Marie, discovered a corpse corre- 
sponding in general size and appearance to the missing 
girl, he would have been warranted (without reference to 
the question of habiliment at all) in forming an opinion 
that his search had been successful. If, in addition to the 
point of general size and contour, he had found upon the 
arm a peculiar hairy appearance which he had observed 
upon the living Marie, his opinion might have been justly 
strengthened, and the increase of positiveness might well 
have been in the ratio of the peculiarity or unusualness 
of the hairy mark. If the feet of Marie being small, 
those of the corpse were also small, the increase of prob- 
ability that the body was that of Marie would not be an 
increase in a ratio merely arithmetical, but in one highly 
geometrical, or accumulative. Add to all this shoes such 
as she had been known to wear upon the day of her dis- 
appearance, and although these shoes may be ‘sold in 
packages/ you so far augment the probability as to verge 
upon the certain. What of itself would be no evidence of 
identity, becomes, through its corroborative position, 
proof most sure. Give us, then, flowers in the hat corre- 
sponding to those worn by the missing girl, and we seek 
for nothing further. If only one flower, we seek for 
nothing further — what then if two or three, or more? 
Each successive one is multiple evidence — proof not added 
to proof, but multiplied by hundreds or thousands. Let 



us now discover upon the deceased garters such as the 
living used, and it is almost folly to proceed. But these 
garters are found to be tightened by the setting back of 
a clasp, in just such a manner as her own had been tight- 
ened by Marie, shortly previous to her leaving home. It 
is now madness or hypocrisy to doubt. What ‘L'Etoile' 
says in respect to this abbreviation of the garter's being a 
usual occurrence, shows nothing beyond its own perti- 
nacity in error. The elastic nature of the clasp-garter is 
self-demonstration of the unusualness of the abbreviation. 
What is made to adjust itself must of necessity require 
foreign adjustment, but rarely. It must have been by an 
accident, in its strictest sense, that these garters of Marie 
needed the tightening described. They alone would have 
amply established her identity. But it is not that the 
corpse was found to have the garters of the missing girl, 
or found to have her shoes, or her bonnet, or the flowers 
of her bonnet, or her feet, or a peculiar mark upon the 
arm, or her general size and appearance — it is that the 
corpse had each, and all collectively . Could it be proved 
that the editor of ‘L'Etoile' really entertained a doubt, 
under the circumstances, there would be no need, in his 
case, of a commission de lunatic o inquirendo. He has 
thought it sagacious to echo the small talk of the lawyers, 
who, for the most part, content themselves with echoing 
the rectangular precepts of the courts. I would here ob- 
serve that very much of what is rejected as evidence by 
a court is the best of evidence to the intellect. For the 
court, guiding itself by the general principles of evidence 
— the recognized and booked principles — is averse from 
swerving at particular instances. And this steadfast ad- 
herence to principle, with rigorous disregard of the con- 
flicting exception, is a sure mode of attaining the maxi- 
mum of attainable truth in any long sequence of time. 
The practice, in mass , is therefore philosophical ; but it is 
not the less certain that it engenders vast individual error. 


“In respect to the insinuations leveled at Beauvais, you 
will be willing to dismiss them in a breath. You have 
already fathomed the true character of this good gentle- 
man. He is a busybody , with much of romance and little 
of wit. Any one so constituted will readily so conduct 
himself, upon occasion of real excitement, as to render 
himself liable to suspicion on the part of the over-acute 
or the ill-disposed. M. Beauvais (as it appears from your 
notes) had some personal interviews with the editor of 
‘L’Etoile/ and offended him by venturing an opinion that 
the corpse, notwithstanding the theory of the editor, was, 
in sober fact, that of Marie. ‘He persists/ says the paper, 
‘in asserting the corpse to be that of Marie, but cannot 
give a circumstance, in addition to those which we have 
commented upon, to make others believe/ Now, with- 
out readverting to the fact that stronger evidence ‘to make 
others believe’ could never have been adduced, it may be 
remarked that a man may very well be understood to be- 
lieve, in a case of this kind, without the ability to advance 
a single reason for the belief of a second party. Nothing 
is more vague than impressions of individual identity. 
Each man recognizes his neighbor, yet there are few in- 
stances in which any one is prepared to give a reason for 
his recognition. The edition of ‘L’Etoile’ had no right to 
be offended at Mr. Beauvais’ unreasoning belief. 

“The suspicious circumstances which invest him will 
be found to tally much better with my hypothesis of 
romantic busybodyism , than with the reasoner’s sugges- 
tion of guilt. Once adopting the more charitable inter- 
pretation, we shall find no difficulty in comprehending the 
rose in the keyhole ; the ‘Marie’ upon the slate ; the ‘elbow- 
ing the male relatives out of the way’; the ‘aversion to 
permitting them to see the body’; the caution given to 

Madame B , that she must hold no conversation with 

the gendarme until his return (Beauvais’) ; and, lastly, his 
apparent determination ‘that nobody should have anything 



to do with the proceedings except himself.’ It seems to 
me unquestionable that Beauvais was a suitor of Marie’s ; 
that she coquetted with him; and that he was ambitious of 
being thought to enjoy her fullest intimacy and confi- 
dence. I shall say nothing more upon this point ; and, as 
the evidence fully rebuts the assertion of ‘L’Etoile/ touch- 
ing the matter of apathy on the part of the mother and 
other relatives — an apathy inconsistent with the supposi- 
tion of their believing the corpse to be that of the per- 
fumery-girl — we shall now proceed as if the question of 
identity were settled to our perfect satisfaction.” 

“And what,” I here demanded, “do you think of the 
opinions of ‘Le Commercial?” 

“That, in spirit, they are far more worthy of attention 
than any which have been promulgated upon the subject. 
The deductions from the premises are philosophical and 
acute; but the premises, in two instances at least, are 
founded in imperfect observation. ‘Le Commercial’ 
wishes to intimate that Marie was seized by some gang 
of low ruffians not far from her mother’s door. ‘It is 
impossible,’ it urges, ‘that a person so well known to 
thousands as this young woman was, should have passed 
three blocks without some one having seen her.’ This is 
the idea of a man long resident in Paris — a public man — 
and one whose walks to and fro in the city have been 
mostly limited to the vicinity of the public offices. He is 
aware that he seldom passes so far as a dozen blocks from 
his own bureau without being recognized and accosted. 
And, knowing the extent of his personal acquaintance 
with others, and of others with him, he compares his no- 
toriety with that of the perfumery-girl, finds no great 
difference between them, and reaches at once the conclu- 
sion that she in her walks would be equally liable to rec- 
ognition with himself in his. This could only be the case 
were her walks of the same unvarying, methodical char- 
acter, and within the same species of limited region as are 



his own. He passes to and fro at regular intervals, with- 
in a confined periphery, abounding in individuals who are 
led to observation of his person through interest in the 
kindred nature of his occupation with their own. But 
the walks of Marie may, in general, be supposed dis- 
cursive. In this particular instance it will be understood 
as most probable, that she proceeded upon a route of more 
than average diversity from her accustomed ones. The 
parallel which we imagine to have existed in the mind of 
‘Le Commerciar would only be sustained in the event of 
the two individuals traversing the whole city. In this 
case, granting the personal acquaintances to be equal, the 
chances would be also equal that an equal number of per- 
sonal re-encounters would be made. For my own part, I 
should hold it not only as possible, but as very far more 
than probable, that Marie might have proceeded, at any 
given period, by any one of the many routes between her 
own residence and that of her aunt, without meeting a 
single individual whom she knew, or by whom she was 
known. In viewing this question in its full and proper 
light, we must hold steadily in mind the great dispropor- 
tion between the personal acquaintances of even the most 
noted individual in Paris and the entire population of 
Paris itself. 

“But whatever force there may still appear to be in 
the suggestion of ‘Le Commerciar will be much dimin- 
ished when we take into consideration the hour at which 
the girl went abroad. Tt was when the streets were full 
of people/ says ‘Le Commercial/ ‘that she went out/ But 
not so. It was at nine o’clock in the morning. Now at 
nine o’clock of every morning in the week, with the ex- 
ception of Sunday , the streets of the city are, it is true, 
thronged with people. At nine on Sunday the populace 
are chiefly within doors, preparing for church . No ob- 
serving person can have failed to notice the peculiarly de- 
serted air of the town from about eight until ten on the 



morning of every Sabbath. Between ten and eleven the 
streets are thronged, but not at so early a period as that 

“There is another point at which there seems a de- 
ficiency of observation on the part of ‘Le Commercial/ 
‘A piece/ it says, ‘of one of the unfortunate girl's petti- 
coats, two feet long and one foot wide, was torn out and 
tied under her chin, and around the back of her head, 
probably to prevent screams. This was done by fellows 
who had no pocket-handkerchiefs/ Whether this idea is 
or is not well founded we will endeavor to see hereafter ; 
but ‘by fellows who have no pocket-handkerchiefs' the 
editor intends the lowest class of ruffians. These, how- 
ever, are the very description of people who will always 
be found to have handkerchiefs even when destitute of 
shirts. You must have had occasion to observe how ab- 
solutely indispensable, of late years, to the thorough black- 
guard, has become the pocket-handkerchief/' 

“And what are we to think," I asked, “of the article in 
‘Le Soldi'?" 

“That it is a vast pity its inditer was not born a parrot 
— in which case he would have been the most illustrious 
parrot of his race. He has merely repeated the individual 
items of the already published opinion; collecting them, 
with a laudable industry, from this paper, and from that. 
‘The things had all evidently been there,' he says, ‘at least 
three or four weeks, and there can be no doubt 
that the spot of this appalling outrage has been dis- 
covered/ The facts here restated by ‘Le Soleil' are very 
far indeed from removing my own doubts upon this sub- 
ject, and we will examine them more particularly here- 
after in connection with another division of the theme. 

“At present we must occupy ourselves with other in- 
vestigations. You cannot fail to have remarked the ex- 
treme laxity of the examination of the corpse. To be 
sure, the question of identity was readily determined, or 


should have been, but there were other points to be as- 
certained. Had the body been in any respect despoiled ? 
Had the deceased any articles of jewelry about her per- 
son upon leaving home? if so, had she any when found? 
These are important questions utterly untouched by the 
evidence; and there are others of equal moment which 
have met with no attention. We must endeavor to satisfy 
ourselves by personal inquiry. The case of St. Eustache 
must be re-examined. I have no suspicion of this person, 
but let us proceed methodically. We will ascertain be- 
yond a doubt the validity of the affidavits in regard to his 
whereabouts on the Sunday. Affidavits of this character 
are readily made matter of mystification. Should there 
be nothing wrong here, however, we will dismiss St. 
Eustache from our investigations. His suicide, however 
corroborative of suspicion, were there found to be deceit 
in the affidavits, is, without such deceit, in no respect an 
unaccountable circumstance, or one which need cause us 
to deflect from the line of ordinary analysis. 

“In that which I now propose, we will discard the 
interior points of this tragedy, and concentrate our at- 
tention upon its outskirts. Not the least usual error, in 
investigations such as this, is the limiting of inquiry to 
the immediate, with total disregard of the collateral or cir- 
cumstantial events. It is the malpractice of the courts to 
confine evidence and discussion to the bounds of apparent 
relevancy. Yet experience has shown, and a true philos- 
ophy will always show, that a vast, perhaps the larger, 
portion of truth arises from the seemingly irrelevant. It 
is through the spirit of this principle, if not precisely 
through its letter, that modern science has resolved to 
calculate upon the unforeseen. But perhaps you do not 
comprehend me. The history of human knowledge has 
so uninterruptedly shown that to collateral, or incidental, 
or accidental events, we are indebted for the most numer- 
ous and most valuable discoveries, that it has at length 



become necessary, in any prospective view of improve- 
ment, to make not only large, but the largest allowances 
for inventions that shall arise by chance, and quite out 
of the range of ordinary expectation. It is no longer 
philosophical to base upon what has been a vision of what 
is to be. Accident is admitted as a portion of the sub- 
structure. We make chance a matter of absolute calcu- 
lation. We subject the unlooked-for and unimagined to 
the mathematical formulce of the schools. 

“I repeat that it is no more than fact that the larger 
portion of all truth has sprung from the collateral; and it 
is but in accordance with the spirit of the principle in- 
volved in this fact that I would divert inquiry in the pres- 
ent case, from the trodden and hitherto unfruitful ground 
of the event itself, to the contemporary circumstances 
which surround it. While you ascertain the validity of 
the affidavits, I will examine the newspapers more gen- 
erally than you have as yet done. So far, we have only 
reconnoitered the field of investigation; but it will be 
strange indeed if a comprehensive survey, such as I pro- 
pose, of the public prints will not afford us some minute 
points which shall establish a direction for inquiry.” 

In pursuance of Dupin’s suggestion, I made a scrupu- 
lous examination of the affair of the affidavits. The re- 
sult was a firm conviction of their validity, and of the 
consequent innocence of St. Eustache. In the meantime 
my friend occupied himself with what seemed to me a 
minuteness altogether objectless in a scrutiny of the vari- 
ous newspaper files. At the end of a week he placed be- 
fore me the following extracts: 

“About three years and a half ago a disturbance very similar to 
the present was caused by the disappearance of this same Marie 
Roget from the parfumerie of Monsieur Le Blanc in the Palais 
Royal. At the end of a week, however, she reappeared at her 
customary comptoir as well as ever, with the exception of a slight 
paleness not altogether usual. It was given out by Monsieur Le 


Blanc and her mother that she had merely been on a visit to some 
friend in the country, and the affair was speedily hushed up. We 
presume that the present absence is a freak of the same nature, 
and that, at the expiration of a week, or perhaps a month, we 
shall have her among us again.” — Evening Paper , Monday, June 

“An evening journal of yesterday refers to a former mysteri- 
ous disappearance of Mademoiselle Roget. It is well known that 
during the week of her absence from Le Blanc’s parfumerie she 
was in the company of a young naval officer much noted for his 
debaucheries. A quarrel, it is supposed, providentially led to her 
return home. We have the name of the Lothario in question, who 
is at present stationed in Paris, but, for obvious reasons, forbear 
to make it public.” — Le Mer curie, Tuesday Morning, June 24. 

“An outrage of the most atrocious character was perpetrated 
near this city the day before yesterday. A gentleman, with his 
wife and daughter, engaged about dusk the services of six young 
men, who were idly rowing a boat to and fro near the banks of 
the Seine, to convey him across the river. Upon reaching the 
opposite shore, the three passengers stepped out, and had pro- 
ceeded so far as to be beyond the view of the boat, when the 
daughter discovered that she had left in it her parasol. She re- 
turned for it, was seized by the gang, carried out into the stream, 
gagged, brutally treated, and finally taken to the shore at a point 
not far from that at which she had originally entered the boat 
with her parents. The villains have escaped for the time, but the 
police are upon their trail, and some of them will soon be taken.” 
— Morning Paper, June 25. 

“We have received one or two communications, the object of 
which is to fasten the crime of the late atrocity upon Mennais; 
but as this gentleman has been fully exonerated by a legal in- 
quiry, and as the arguments of our several correspondents appear 
to be more zealous than profound, we do not think it advisable 
to make them public.” — Morning Paper, June 28. 

“We have received several forcibly written communications, ap- 
parently from various sources, and which go far to render it a 
matter of certainty that the unfortunate Marie Roget has become 
a victim of one of the numerous bands of blackguards which in- 
fest the vicinity of the city upon Sunday. Our own opinion is de- 
cidedly in favor of this supposition. We shall endeavor to make 
room for some of these arguments hereafter.” — Evening Paper, 
Tuesday, June 31. 

“On Monday, one of the bargemen connected with the revenue 
service saw an empty boat floating down the Seine. Sails were 



lying in the bottom of the boat. The bargeman towed it under the 
barge office. The next morning it was taken from thence with- 
out the knowledge of any of the officers. The rudder is now at 
the barge office .” — Le Diligence, Thursday, June 26. 

Upon reading these various extracts, they not only 
seemed to me irrelevant, but I could perceive no mode in 
which any one of them could be brought to bear upon the 
matter in hand. I waited for some explanation from 

“It is not my present design/’ he said, “to dwell upon 
the first and second of these extracts. I have copied 
them chiefly to show you the extreme remissness of the 
police, who, as far as I can understand from the Prefect, 
have not troubled themselves in any respect with an ex- 
amination of the naval officer alluded to. Yet it is mere 
folly to say that between the first and second disap- 
pearance of Marie, there is no supposable connection. Let 
us admit the first elopement to have resulted in a quarrel 
between the lovers and the return home of the betrayed. 
We are now prepared to view a second elopement (if we 
know that an elopement has again taken place) as indi- 
cating a renewal of the betrayer’s advances, rather than 
as the result of new proposals by a second individual — 
we are prepared to regard it as a "making up’ of the old 
amour rather than as the commencement of a new one. 
The chances are ten to one that he who had once eloped 
with Marie would again propose an elopement rather than 
that she to whom proposals of elopement had been made 
by one individual should have them made to her by an- 
other. And here let me call your attention to the fact 
that the time elapsing between the first ascertained and 
the second supposed elopement is a few months more 
than the general period of the cruises of our men-of-war. 
Had the lover been interrupted in his first villainy by the 
necessity of departure to sea, and had he seized the first 
moment of his return to renew the base designs not yet 


altogether accomplished, or not yet altogether accom- 
plished by him? Of all these things we know nothing. 

“You will say, however, that, in the second instance, 
there was no elopement as imagined. Certainly not — but 
are we prepared to say that there was not the frustrated 
design? Beyond St. Eustache, and perhaps Beauvais, we 
find no recognized, no open, no honorable suitors of 
Marie. Of none other is there anything said. Who, then, 
is the secret lover of whom the relatives (at least most of 
them) know nothing, but whom Marie meets upon the 
morning of Sunday, and who is so deeply in her confi- 
dence that she hesitates not to remain with him until the 
shades of the evening descend amid the solitary groves of 
the Barriere du Roule? Who is that secret lover, I ask, 
of whom, at least, most of the relatives know nothing? 
And what means the singular prophecy of Madame Roget 
on the morning of Marie’s departure? — T fear that I 
shall never see Marie again/ 

“But if we cannot imagine Madame Roget privy to the 
design of elopement, may we not at least suppose this 
design entertained by the girl ? Upon quitting home, she 
gave it to be understood that she was about to visit her 
aunt in the Rue des Dromes, and St. Eustache was re- 
quested to call for her at dark. Now, at first glance, this 
fact strongly militates against my suggestion, but let us 
reflect. That she did meet some companion and proceed 
with him across the river, reaching the Barriere du Roule 
at so late an hour as three o’clock in the afternoon, is 
known. But in consenting so to accompany this individual 
(for whatever purpose — to her mother known or un- 
known ), she must have thought of her expressed inten- 
tion when leaving home, and of the surprise and suspicion 
aroused in the bosom of her affianced suitor, St. Eustache, 
when, calling for her at the hour appointed in the Rue des 
Dromes, he should find that she had not been there, and 
when, moreover, upon returning to the pension with this 



alarming intelligence, he should become aware of her 
continued absence from home. She must have thought 
of these things, I say. She must have foreseen the 
chagrin of St. Eustache, the suspicion of all. She could 
not have thought of returning to brave this suspicion; 
but the suspicion becomes a point of trivial importance to 
her if we suppose her not intending to return. 

“We may imagine her thinking thus — T am to meet a 
certain person for the purpose of elopement, or for cer- 
tain other purposes known only to myself. It is necessary 
that there be no chance of interruption — there must be 
sufficient time given us to elude pursuit — I will give it to 
be understood that I shall visit and spend the day with 
my aunt at the Rue des Dromes — I will tell St. Eustache 
not to call for me until dark — in this way, my absence 
from home for the longest possible period, without caus- 
ing suspicion or anxiety, will be accounted for, and I 
shall gain more time than in any other manner. If I bid 
St. Eustache call for me at dark, he will be sure not to 
call before; but, if I wholly neglect to bid him call, my 
time for escape will be diminished, since it will be ex- 
pected that I return the earlier, and my absence will the 
sooner excite anxiety. Now, if it were my design to re- 
turn at all — if I had in contemplation merely a stroll with 
the individual in question — it would not be my policy to 
bid St. Eustache call; for calling, he will be sure to ascer- 
tain that I have played him false — a fact of which I 
might keep him forever in ignorance, by leaving home 
without notifying him of my intention, by returning be- 
fore dark, and by then stating that I had been to visit my 
aunt in the Rue des Dromes. But, as it is my design 
never to return — or not for some weeks — or not until 
certain concealments are effected — the gaining of time is 
the only point about which I need give myself any con- 

“You have observed, in your notes, that the most gen- 


eral opinion in relation to this sad affair is, and was from 
the first, that the girl had been the victim of a gang of 
blackguards. Now, the popular opinion, under certain 
conditions, is not to be disregarded. When arising of it- 
self — when manifesting itself in a strictly spontaneous 
manner — we should look upon it as analogous with that 
intuition which is the idiosyncrasy of the individual man 
of genius. In ninety-nine cases from the hundred I would 
abide by its decision. But it is important that we find no 
palpable traces of suggestion . The opinion must be rigor- 
ously the public's own; and the distinction is often ex- 
ceedingly difficult to perceive and to maintain. In the 
present instance, it appears to me that this "public opinion/ 
in respect to a gang , has been superinduced by the col- 
lateral event which is detailed in the third of my extracts. 
All Paris is excited by the discovered corpse of Marie, a 
girl young, beautiful, and notorious. This corpse is 
found, bearing marks of violence, and floating in the 
river. But it is now made known that, at the very period, 
or about the very period, in which it is supposed that the 
girl was assassinated, an outrage similar in nature to that 
endured by the deceased, although less in extent, was per- 
petrated, by a gang of young ruffians, upon the person of 
a second young female. Is it wonderful that the one 
known atrocity should influence the popular judgment in 
regard to the other unknown? This judgment awaited 
direction, and the known outrage seemed so opportunely 
to afford it ! Marie, too, was found in the river : and upon 
this very river was this known outrage committed. The 
connection of the two events had about it so much of the 
palpable, that the true wonder would have been a failure 
of the populace to appreciate and seize it. But, in fact, 
the one atrocity, known to be so committed, is, if any- 
thing, evidence that the other, committed at a time nearly 
coincident, was not so committed. It would have been a 
miracle indeed, if, while a gang of ruffians were per- 



petrating, at a given locality, a most unheard-of wrong, 
there should have been another similar gang, in a similar 
locality, in the same city, under the same circumstances, 
with the same means and appliances, engaged in a wrong 
of precisely the same aspect, at precisely the same period 
of time! Yet in what, if not in this marvelous train of 
coincidence, does the accidentally suggested opinion of the 
populace call upon us to believe? 

“Before proceeding further, let us consider the sup- 
posed scene of the assassination in the thicket at the 
Barriere du Roule. This thicket, although dense, was in 
the close vicinity of a public road. Within were three or 
four large stones, forming a kind of seat with a back and 
footstool. On the upper stone was discovered a white 
petticoat; on the second, a silk scarf. A parasol, gloves, 
and a pocket-handkerchief were also here found. The 
handkerchief bore the name, ‘Marie Roget/ Fragments 
of dress were seen on the branches around. The earth 
was trampled, the bushes were broken, and there was 
every evidence of a violent struggle. 

“Notwithstanding the acclamation with which the dis- 
covery of this thicket was received by the press, and the 
unanimity with which it was supposed to indicate the pre- 
cise scene of the outrage, it must be admitted that there 
was some very good reason for doubt. That it was the 
scene, I may or I may not believe — but there was excel- 
lent reason for doubt. Had the true scene been, as ‘Le 
Commercial* suggested, in the neighborhood of the Rue 
Pavee Ste. Andree, the perpetrators of the crime, sup- 
posing them still resident in Paris, would naturally have 
been stricken with terror at the public attention thus 
acutely directed into the proper channel; and in certain 
classes of minds there would have arisen at once a sense 
of the necessity of some exertion to redivert this atten- 
tion. And thus the thicket of the Barriere du Roule hav- 
ing been already suspected, the idea of placing the articles 


where they were found might have been naturally enter- 
tained. There is no real evidence, although ‘Le Soled’ so 
supposes, that the articles discovered had been more than 
a few days in the thicket; while there is much circum- 
stantial proof that they could not have remained there, 
without attracting attention, during the twenty days 
elapsing between the fatal Sunday and the afternoon upon 
which they were found by the boys. ‘They were all mil- 
dewed down hard/ says ‘Le Soleil/ adopting the opinions 
of its predecessors, ‘with the action of the rain, and stuck 
together from mildew . The grass had grown around and 
over some of them. The silk of the parasol was strong, 
but the threads of it were run together within. The upper 
part, where it had been doubled and folded, was all mil- 
dewed and rotten, and tore on being opened/ In respect 
to the grass having ‘grown around and over some of 
them/ it is obvious that the fact could only have been 
ascertained from the words, and thus from the recollec- 
tions, of two small boys; for these boys removed the 
articles and took them home before they had been seen by 
a third party. But grass will grow, especially in warm 
and damp weather (such as was that of the period of the 
murder), as much as two or three inches in a single day. 
A parasol lying upon a newly-turfed ground might in a 
single week be entirely concealed from sight by the up- 
springing grass. And touching that mildew, upon which 
the editor of ‘Le Soleib so pertinaciously insists, that he 
employs the word no less than three times in the brief 
paragraph just quoted, is he really unaware of the nature 
of this mildew? Is he to be told that it is one of the many 
classes of fungus , of which the most ordinary feature is 
its upspringing and decadence within twenty-four hours? 

“Thus we see at a glance that what has been most 
triumphantly adduced in support of the idea that the 
articles had been ‘for at least three or four weeks’ in 
the thicket is most absurdly null as regards any evidence 



of that fact. On the other hand, it is exceedingly diffi- 
cult to believe that these articles could have remained in 
the thicket specified for a longer period than a single 
week — for a longer period than from one Sunday to the 
next. Those who know anything of the vicinity of Paris 
know the extreme difficulty of finding seclusion , unless at 
a great distance from its suburbs. Such a thing as an un- 
explored, or even an unfrequently visited recess, amid its 
woods or groves, is not for a moment to be imagined. 
Let any one who, being at heart a lover of nature, is yet 
chained by duty to the dust and heat of this great metrop- 
olis — let any such one attempt, even during the week- 
days, to slake his thirst for solitude amid the scenes of 
natural loveliness which immediately surround us — at 
every step he will find the growing charm dispelled by the 
voice and personal intrusion of some ruffian or party of 
carousing blackguards. He will seek privacy amid the 
densest foliage all in vain. Here are the very nooks 
where the unwashed most abound — here are the temples 
most desecrate. With sickness of the heart the wanderer 
will flee back to the polluted Paris as to less odious, be- 
cause less incongruous, sink of pollution. But if the 
vicinity of the city is so beset during working days of the 
week, how much more so on Sabbath ! It is now especially 
that, released from the claims of labor or deprived of the 
customary opportunities of crime, the town blackguard 
seeks the precincts of the town, not through love of the 
rural, which in his heart he despises, but by way of escape 
from the restraints and conventionalities of society. He 
desires less the fresh air and the green trees than the 
utter license of the country. Here, at the roadside inn or 
beneath the foliage of the woods, he indulges, unchecked 
by any eye except those of his boon companions, in all 
the mad excess of a counterfeit hilarity — the joint off- 
spring of liberty and of rum. I say nothing more than 
what must be obvious to every dispassionate observer. 


when I repeat that the circumstance of the articles in 
question having remained undiscovered for a longer 
period than from one Sunday to another in any thicket in 
the immediate neighborhood of Paris, is to be looked upon 
as little less than miraculous. 

“But there are not wanting other grounds for the sus- 
picion that the articles were placed in the thicket with 
the view of diverting attention from the real scene of the 
outrage. And, first, let me direct your notice to the date 
of the discovery of the articles. Collate this with the date 
of the fifth extract made by myself from the newspapers. 
You will find that the discovery followed, almost imme- 
diately, the urgent communications sent to the evening 
newspaper. These communications, although various, and 
apparently from various sources, tended all to the same 
point — viz., the directing of attention to a gang as the 
perpetrators of the outrage, and to the neighborhood of 
the Barriere du Roule as its scene. Now here, of course, 
the suspicion is not that, in consequence of these com- 
munications, or of the public attention by them directed, 
the articles were found by the boys; but the suspicion 
might and may well have been that the articles were not 
before found by the boys for the reason that the articles 
had not before been in the thicket ; having been deposited 
there only at so late a period as at the date, or shortly 
prior to the date, of the communications, by the guilty 
authors of these communications themselves. 

“This thicket was a singular — an exceedingly singular 
one. It was unusually dense. Within its naturally walled 
inclosure were three extraordinary stones, forming a seat 
with a back and footstool. And this thicket, so full of 
natural art, was in the immediate vicinity, within a few 
rods , of the dwelling of Madame Deluc, whose boys were 
in the habit of closely examining the shrubberies about 
them in search of the bark of the sassafras. Would it be 
a rash wager — a wager of one thousand to one — that a 



day never passed over the heads of these boys without 
finding at least one of them ensconced in the umbrageous 
hall, and enthroned upon its natural throne? Those who 
would hesitate at such a wager have either never been 
boys themselves or have forgotten the boyish nature. I 
repeat — it is exceedingly hard to comprehend how the 
articles could have remained in this thicket undiscovered 
for a longer period than one or two days ; and that thus 
there is good ground for suspicion, in spite of the dog- 
matic ignorance of ‘Le Soleil/ that they were, at a com- 
paratively late date, deposited where found. 

“But there are still other and stronger reasons for be- 
lieving them so deposited than any which I have as yet 
urged. And, now, let me beg your notice to the highly 
artificial arrangement of the articles. On the upper stone 
lay a white petticoat ; on the second a silk scarf ; scattered 
around, were a parasol, gloves, and a pocket-handker- 
chief bearing the name of ‘Marie Roget/ Here is just 
such an arrangement as would naturally be made by a not- 
over-acute person wishing to dispose the articles naturally . 
But it is by no means a really natural arrangement. 
I should rather have looked to see the things all lying on 
the ground and trampled under foot. In the narrow 
limits of that bower, it would have been scarcely possible 
that the petticoat and scarf should have retained a posi- 
tion upon the stones, when subjected to the brushing to 
and fro of many struggling persons. ‘There was evi- 
dence/ it is said, ‘of a struggle; and the earth was 
trampled, the bushes were broken/ but the petticoat and 
scarf are found deposited as if upon shelves. ‘The pieces 
of the frock torn out by the bushes were about three 
inches wide and six inches long. One part was the hem 
of the frock, and it had been mended. They looked like 
strips torn off/ Here, inadvertently, ‘Le Soleir has em- 
ployed an exceedingly suspicious phrase. The pieces, as 
described, do indeed ‘look like strips torn off/ but pur- 


posely and by hand. It is one of the rarest of accidents 
that a piece is ‘torn ofF from any garment such as is now 
in question, by the agency of a thorn . From the very 
nature of such fabrics, a thorn or nail becoming entangled 
in them, tears them rectangularly — divides them into two 
longitudinal rents, at right angles with each other, and 
meeting at an apex where the thorn enters — but it is 
scarcely possible to conceive the piece ‘torn off/ I never 
so knew it, nor did you. To tear a piece off from such 
fabric, two distinct forces, in different directions, will be 
in almost every case required. If there be two edges to 
the fabric — if, for example, it be a pocket-handkerchief 
and it is desired to tear from it a slip, then, and then only, 
will the one force serve the purpose. But in the present 
case, the question is of a dress presenting but one edge. 
To tear a piece from the interior, where no edge is pre- 
sented, could only be effected by a miracle through the 
agency of thorns, and no one thorn could accomplish it. 
But, even where an edge is presented, two thorns will be 
necessary, operating, the one in two distinct directions, 
and the other in one. And this in the supposition that 
the edge is unhemmed. If hemmed, the matter is nearly 
out of the question. We thus see the numerous and 
great obstacles in the way of pieces being ‘torn off' 
through the simple agency of ‘thorns'; yet we are re- 
quired to believe not only that one piece but that many 
have been so torn. ‘And one part,' too, 'was the hem of 
the frock!' Another piece was ‘ part of the skirt not the 
hem / — that is to say, was torn completely out, through 
the agency of thorns, from the unedged interior of the 
dress ! These, I say, are things which one may well be 
pardoned for disbelieving; yet taken collectedly, they 
form, perhaps, less of reasonable ground for suspicion 
than the one startling circumstance of the articles having 
been left in this thicket at all by any murderers who had 
enough precaution to think of removing the corpse. You 



will not have apprehended me rightly, however, if you 
suppose it my design to deny this thicket as the scene of 
the outrage. There might have been a wrong here , or, 
more possibly, an accident at Madame Deluc’s. But, in 
fact, this is a point of minor importance. We are not en- 
gaged in an attempt to discover the scene, but to produce 
the perpetrators of the murder. What I have adduced, 
notwithstanding the minuteness with which I have ad- 
duced it, has been with the view, first, to show the folly of 
the positive and headlong assertions of ‘Le Soled/ but 
secondly and chiefly, to bring you by the most natural 
route to a further contemplation of the doubt whether 
this assassination has, or has not been, the work of a 

“We will resume this question by mere allusion to the 
revolting details of the surgeon examined at the inquest. 
It is only necessary to say that his published inferences , in 
regard to the number of the ruffians, have been properly 
ridiculed as unjust and totally baseless by all the reputable 
anatomists of Paris. Not that the matter might not have 
been as inferred, but that there was no ground for the in- 
ference — was there not much for another? 

“Let us reflect now upon 'the traces of a struggle’ ; and 
let me ask what these traces have been supposed to dem- 
onstrate. A gang. But do they not rather demonstrate 
the absence of a gang? What struggle could have taken 
place — what struggle so violent and so enduring as to 
have left its 'traces’ in all directions — between a weak 
and defenseless girl and the gang of ruffians imagined? 
The silent grasp of a few rough arms and all would have 
been over. The victim must have been absolutely passive 
at their will. You will here bear in mind that the argu- 
ments urged against the thicket as the scene, are ap- 
plicable, in chief part, only against it as the scene of an 
outrage committed by more than a single individual. If 
we imagine but one violator we can conceive, and thus 


only conceive, the struggle of so violent and so obstinate a 
nature as to have left the 'traces’ apparent. 

"And again. I have already mentioned the suspicion to 
be excited by the fact that the articles in question were 
suffered to remain at all in the thicket where discovered. 
It seems almost impossible that these evidences of guilt 
should have been accidentally left where found. There 
was sufficient presence of mind (it is supposed) to remove 
the corpse; and yet a more positive evidence than the 
corpse itself (whose features might have been quickly 
obliterated by decay) is allowed to lie conspicuously in 
the scene of the outrage — I allude to the handkerchief 
with the name of the deceased. If this was accident, it 
was not the accident of a gang. We can imagine it only 
the accident of an individual. Let us see. An individual 
has committed the murder. He is alone with the ghost of 
the departed. He is appalled by what lies motionless be- 
fore him. The fury of his passion is over, and there is 
abundant room in his heart for the natural awe of the 
deed. His is none of that confidence which the presence 
of numbers inevitably inspires. He is alone with the 
dead. He trembles and is bewildered. Yet there is a 
necessity for disposing of the corpse. He bears it to the 
river, but leaves behind him the other evidences of guilt; 
for it is difficult, if not impossible, to carry all the burthen 
at once, and it will be easy to return for what is left. But 
in his toilsome journey to the water his fears redouble 
within him. The sounds of life encompass his path. A 
dozen times he hears or fancies the step of an observer. 
Even the very lights from the city bewilder him. Yet, in 
time, and by long and frequent pauses of deep agony, he 
reaches the river’s brink, and disposes of his ghastly 
charge — perhaps through the medium of a boat. But now 
what treasure does the world hold — what threat of ven- 
geance could it hold out — which would have power to 
urge the return of that lonely murderer over that toil- 



some and perilous path, to the thicket and its blood-chill- 
ing recollections? He returns not , let the consequences be 
what they may. He could not return if he would. His 
sole thought is immediate escape. He turns his back for- 
ever upon those dreadful shrubberies, and flees as from 
the wrath to come. 

“But how with a gang? Their number would have in- 
spired them with confidence ; if, indeed, confidence is ever 
wanting in the breast of the arrant blackguard; and of 
arrant blackguards alone are the supposed gangs ever con- 
stituted. Their number, I say, would have prevented the 
bewildering and unreasoning terror which I have imag- 
ined to paralyze the single man. Could we suppose an 
oversight in one, or two, or three, this oversight would 
have been remedied by a fourth. They would have left 
nothing behind them; for their number would have en- 
abled them to carry all at once. There would have been 
no need of return. 

“Consider now the circumstance that in the outer gar- 
ment of the corpse when found, ‘a slip, about a foot wide, 
had been torn upward from the bottom hem to the waist, 
wound three times round the waist, and secured by a sort 
of hitch in the back/ This was done with the obvious de- 
sign of affording a handle by which to carry the body. 
But would any number of men have dreamed of resorting 
to such an expedient? To three or four, the limbs of 
the corpse would have afforded not only a sufficient, but 
the best possible hold. The device is that of a single in- 
dividual ; and this brings us to the fact that, "between the 
thicket and the river, the rails of the fences were found 
taken down, and the ground bore evident traces of some 
heavy burden having been dragged along it !’ But would 
a number of men have put themselves to the superfluous 
trouble of taking down a fence for the purpose of 
dragging through it a corpse which they might have lifted 
over any fence in an instant? Would a number of men 



have so dragged a corpse at all as to have left evident 
traces of the dragging? 

“And here we must refer to an observation of ‘Le Com- 
mercial/ an observation upon which I have already, in 
some measure commented. ‘A piece/ says this journal, 
‘of one of the unfortunate girl’s petticoats was torn out 
and tied under her chin, and around the back of her head, 
probably to prevent screams. This was done by fellows 
who had no pocket-handkerchiefs/ 

“I have before suggested that a genuine blackguard is 
never without a pocket-handkerchief. But it is not 
to this fact that I now especially advert. That it was not 
through want of a handkerchief for the purpose imagined 
by ‘Le Commercial’ that this bandage was employed, is 
rendered apparent by the handkerchief left in the thicket ; 
and that the object was not ‘to prevent screams’ appears 
also from the bandage having been employed in prefer- 
ence to what would so much better have answered the 
purpose. But the language of the evidence speaks of the 
strip in quesiton as ‘found around the neck, fitting 
loosely, and secured with a hard knot/ These words are 
sufficiently vague, but differ materially from those of ‘Le 
Commercial/ The slip was eighteen inches wide, and 
therefore, although of muslin, would form a strong band 
when folded or rumpled longitudinally. And thus 
rumpled it was discovered. My inference is this. The 
solitary murderer, having borne the corpse for some dis- 
tance (whether from the thicket or elsewhere by means 
of the bandage hitched around its middle), found the 
weight in this mode of procedure too much for his 
strength. He resolved to drag the burthen — the evidence 
goes to show that it was dragged. With this object in 
view, it became necessary to attach something like a rope 
to one of the extremities. It could be best attached about 
the neck, where the head would prevent its slipping off. 
And now the murderer bethought him, unquestionably, of 



the bandage about the loins. He would have used this 
but for its volution about the corpse, the hitch which em- 
barrassed it, and the reflection that it had not been ‘torn 
off’ from the garment. It was easier to tear a new slip 
from the petticoat. He tore it, made it fast about the 
neck, and so dragged his victim to the brink of the river. 
That this ‘bandage/ only attainable with trouble and de- 
lay, and but imperfectly answering its purpose — that this 
bandage was employed at all , demonstrates that the neces- 
sity for its employment sprang from circumstances arising 
at a period when the handkerchief was no longer attain- 
able, that is to say, arising, as we have imagined, after 
quitting the thicket (if the thicket it was), and on the road 
between the thicket and the river. 

“But the evidence, you will say, of Madame Deluc 
points especially to the presence of a gang , in the vicinity 
of the thicket, at or about the epoch of the murder. This 
I grant. I doubt if there were not a dozen gangs, such as 
described by Madame Deluc, in and about the vicinity of 
the Barriere du Roule at or about the period of this 
tragedy. But the gang which has drawn upon itself the 
pointed animadversion, although the somewhat tardy and 
very suspicious evidence of Madame Deluc, is the only 
gang which is represented by that honest and scrupulous 
old lady as having eaten her cakes and swallowed her 
brandy without putting themselves to the trouble of mak- 
ing her payment. Et hinc illce iroe? 

“But what is the precise evidence of Madame Deluc? 
‘A gang of miscreants made their appearance, behaved 
boisterously, ate and drank without making payment, fol- 
lowed in the route of the young man and girl, returned 
to the inn about dusk, and recrossed the river as if in 
great haste/ 

“Now this ‘great haste’ very possibly seemed greater 
haste in the eyes of Madame Deluc since she dwelt linger- 
ingly and lamentingly upon her violated cakes and ale — 



cakes and ale for which she might still have entertained a 
faint hope of compensation. Why, otherwise, since it 
was about dusk, should she make a point of the haste? It 
is no cause for wonder, surely, that even a gang of black- 
guards should make haste to get home, when a wide river 
is to be crossed in small boats, when storm impends, and 
when night approaches. 

“I say approaches ; for the night had not yet arrived . 
It was only about dusk that the indecent haste of these 
‘miscreants’ offended the sober eyes of Madame Deluc. 
But we are told that it was upon this very evening that 
Madame Deluc, as well as her eldest son, ‘heard the 
screams of a female in the vicinity of the inn/ And in 
what words does Madame Deluc designate the period of 
the evening at which these screams were heard ? ‘It was 
soon after dark / she says. But ‘soon after dark 9 is, at 
least, dark; and, ‘about dusk’ is as certainly daylight. 
Thus it is abundantly clear that the gang quitted the 
Barriere du Roule prior to the screams overheard (?) by 
Madame Deluc. And although, in all the many reports 
of the evidence, the relative expressions in question are 
distinctly and invariably employed just as I have em- 
ployed them in this conversation with yourself, no notice 
whatever of the gross discrepancy has as yet been taken 
by any of the public journals, or by any of the myrmidons 
of police. 

“I shall add but one to the arguments against a gang; 
but this one has, to my own understanding at least, a 
weight altogether irresistible. Under the circumstances 
of a large reward offered, and full pardon to any King’s 
evidence, it is not to be imagined, for a moment, that 
some member of a gang of low ruffians, or of any body 
of men, would not long ago have betrayed his accomplices. 
Each one of a gang so placed is not so much greedy of re- 
ward, or anxious for escape, as fearful of betrayal. He 
betrays eagerly and early that he may not himself be be - 



trayed. That the secret has not been divulged is the very 
best of proof that it is in fact a secret. The horrors of this 
dark deed are known only to one or two living human be- 
ings and to God. 

“Let us sum up now the meager yet certain fruits of 
our long analysis. We have attained the idea either of a 
fatal accident under the roof of Madame Deluc or of a 
murder perpetrated in the thicket at the Barriere du 
Roule, by a lover, or at least by an intimate and secret 
associate of the deceased. This associate is of swarthy 
complexion. This complexion, the ‘hitch’ in the bandage, 
and the sailor’s ‘knot,’ with which the bonnet-ribbon is 
tied, point to a seaman. His companionship with the de- 
ceased, a gay, but not an abject young girl, designates him 
as above the grade of the common sailor. Here the well- 
written and urgent communications to the journals are 
much in the way of corroboration. The circumstance of 
the first elopement, as mentioned by ‘Le Mercurie,’ tends 
to blend the idea of this seaman with that of the ‘naval 
officer’ who is first known to have led the unfortunate 
into crime. 

“And here most fitly comes the consideration of the 
continued absence of him of the dark complexion. Let 
me pause to observe that the complexion of this man is 
dark and swarthy; it was no common swarthiness which 
constituted the sole point of remembrance, both as regards 
Valence and Madame Deluc. But why is this man ab- 
sent? Was he murdered by the gang? If so, why are 
there only traces of the assassinated girl? The scene of 
the two outrages will naturally be supposed identical. And 
where is his corpse? The assassins would most prob- 
ably have disposed of both in the same way. But it may be 
said that this man lives, and is deterred from making him- 
self known through dread of being charged with the mur- 
der. This consideration might be supposed to operate 
upon him now — at this late period — since it has been given 


in evidence that he was seen with Marie — but it would have 
had no force at the period of the deed. The first im- 
pulse of an innocent man would have been to announce 
the outrage, and to aid in identifying the ruffians. This 
policy would have suggested. He had been seen with the 
girl. He had crossed the river with her in an open ferry- 
boat. The denouncing of the assassins would have ap- 
peared, even to an idiot, the surest and sole means of re- 
lieving himself from suspicion. We cannot suppose him 
on the night of the fatal Sunday both innocent himself 
and incognizant of an outrage committed. Yet only under 
such circumstances is it possible to imagine that he would 
have failed, if alive, in the denouncement of the assassins. 

“And what means are ours of attaining the truth? We 
shall find these means multiplying and gathering distinct- 
ness as we proceed. Let us sift to the bottom this affair 
of the first elopement. Let us know the full history of 
‘the officer/ with his present circumstances, and his where- 
abouts at the precise period of the murder. Let us care- 
fully compare with each other the various communica- 
tions sent to the evening paper, in which the object was 
to inculpate a gang . This done, let us compare these 
communications, both as regards style and MS., with 
those sent to the morning paper, at a previous period, and 
insisting so vehemently upon the guilt of Mennais. And 
all this done, let us again compare these various communi- 
cations with the known MSS. of the officer. Let us en- 
deavor to ascertain by repeated questionings of Madame 
Deluc and her boys, as well as of the omnibus-driver, 
Valence, something more of the personal appearance and 
bearing of the ‘man of dark complexion/ Queries, skil- 
fully directed, will not fail to elicit from some of these 
parties information on this particular point (or upon 
others) — information which the parties themselves may 
not even be aware of possessing. And let us now trace 
the boat picked up by the bargeman on the morning of 



Monday, the twenty-third of June, and which was re- 
moved from the barge-office without the cognizance of the 
officer in attendance, and without the rudder, at some 
period prior to the discovery of the corpse. With a proper 
caution and perseverance we shall infalliby trace this boat; 
for not only can the bargeman who picked it up identify 
it, but the rudder is at hand . The rudder of a sail-boat 
would not have been abandoned, without inquiry, by one 
altogether at ease in heart. And here let me pause to in- 
sinuate a question. There was no advertisement of the 
picking up of this boat. It was silently taken to the 
barge-office, and as silently removed. But its owner or 
employer — how happened he, at so early a period as Tues- 
day morning, to be informed without the agency of ad- 
vertisement, of the locality of the boat taken up on Mon- 
day, unless we imagine some connection with the navy — 
some personal permanent connection leading to cogni- 
zance of its minute interests — its petty local news? 

“In speaking of the lonely assassin dragging his bur- 
den to the shore, I have already suggested the prob- 
ability of his availing himself of a boat . Now we are to 
understand that Marie Roget was precipitated from a 
boat. This would naturally have been the case. The 
corpse could not have been trusted to the shallow waters 
of the shore. The peculiar marks on the back and shoul- 
ders of the victim tell of the bottom ribs of a boat. That 
the body was found without weight is also corroborative 
of the idea. If thrown from the shore a weight would 
have been attached. We can only account for its ab- 
sence by supposing the murderer to have neglected the 
precaution of supplying himself with it before pushing 
off. In the act of consigning the corpse to the water, 
he would unquestionably have noticed his oversight; but 
then no remedy would have been at hand. Any risk 
would have been preferred to a return to that accursed 
shore. Having rid himself of his ghastly charge, the mur- 


derer would have hastened to the city. There, at some 
obscure wharf, he would have leaped on land. But the 
boat — would he have secured it? He would have been in 
too great haste for such things as securing a boat. More- 
over, in fastening it to the wharf he would have felt as if 
securing evidence against himself. His natural thought 
would have been to cast from him as far as possible all 
that had held connection with his crime. He would not 
only have fled from the wharf, but he would not have per- 
mitted the boat to remain. Assuredly he would have cast 
it adrift. Let us pursue our fancies. — In the morning the 
wretch is stricken with unutterable horror at finding that 
the boat has been picked up and detained at a locality 
which he is in the daily habit of frequenting — at a locality, 
perhaps which his duty compels him to frequent. The 
next night, without daring to ask for the rudder , he re- 
moves it. Now where is that rudderless boat? Let it be 
one of our first purposes to discover. With the first 
glimpse we obtain of it, the dawn of our success shall 
begin. This boat shall guide us, with a rapidity which 
will surprise even ourselves, to him who employed it in 
the midnight of the fatal Sabbath. Corroboration will 
rise upon corroboration, and the murderer will be traced.” 
It will be understood that I speak of coincidences and 
no more . What I have said above upon this topic must 
suffice. In my own heart there dwells no faith in preter- 
nature. That nature and its God are two, no man who 
thinks will deny. That the latter, creating the former, 
can at will control or modify it, is also unquestionable. I 
say “at will”; for the question is of will, and not, as the 
insanity of logic has assumed, of power. It is not that the 
Deity cannot modify His laws, but that we insult Him in 
imagining a possible necessity for modification. In their 
origin these laws were fashioned to embrace all contin- 
gencies which could lie in the Future. With God all is 
Now . 



I repeat, then, that I speak of these things only as of 
coincidences. And further: in what I relate it will be 
seen that between the fate of the unhappy Mary Cecilia 
Rogers, so far as that fate is known, and the fate of one 
Marie Roget up to a certain epoch in her history, there 
has existed a parallel in the contemplation of whose won- 
derful exactitude the reason becomes embarrassed. I say 
all this will be seen. But let it not for a moment be sup- 
posed that, in proceeding with the sad narrative of Marie 
from the epoch just mentioned, and in tracing to its de- 
nouement the mystery which enshrouded her, it is my 
covert design to hint at an extension of the parallel, or 
even to suggest that the measures adopted in Paris for 
the discovery of the assassin of a grisette, or measures 
founded in any similar ratiocination, would produce any 
similar result. 

For, in respect to the latter branch of the supposition, 
it should be considered that the most trifling variation in 
the facts of the two cases might give rise to the most im- 
portant miscalculations, by diverting thoroughly the two 
courses of events; very much as, in arithmetic, an error 
which, in its own individuality, may be inappreciable, pro- 
duces, at length, by dint of multiplication at all points of 
the process, a result enormously at variance with truth. 
And, in regard to the former branch, we must not fail to 
hold in view that the very Calculus of Probabilities to 
which I have referred forbids all idea of the extension of 
the parallel: — forbids it with a positiveness strong and 
decided just in proportion as this parallel has already been 
long drawn and exact. This is one of those anomalous 
propositions which, seemingly appealing to thought alto- 
gether apart from the mathematical, is yet one which only 
the mathematician can fully entertain. Nothing, for ex- 
ample, is more difficult than to convince the merely gen- 
eral reader that the fact of sixes having been thrown 
twice in succession by a player at dice, is sufficient cause 


for betting the largest odds that sixes will not be thrown 
in the third attempt. A suggestion to this effect is usually 
rejected by the intellect at once. It does not appear that 
the two throws which have been completed, and which 
lie now absolutely in the Past, can have influence upon the 
throw which exists only in the Future. The chance for 
throwing sixes seems to be precisely as it was at any ordi- 
nary time — that is to say, subject only to the influence of 
the various other throws which may be made by the dice. 
And this is a reflection which appears so exceedingly ob- 
vious that attempts to controvert it are received more fre- 
quently with a derisive smile than with anything like re- 
spectful attention. The error here involved — a gross error 
redolent of mischief — I cannot pretend to expose within 
the limits assigned me at present ; and with the philosophi- 
cal it needs no exposure. It may be sufficient here to say 
that it forms one of an infinite series of mistakes which 
arise in the path of Reason through her propensity for 
seeking truth in detail . 


At Paris, just after dark one gusty evening in the 
autumn of 18—, I was enjoying the twofold luxury of 
meditation and a meerschaum, in company with my friend 
C. Auguste Dupin, in his little back library, or book- 
closet, au troisieme, No. 33 Rue Donot, Faubourg St. 
Germain. For one hour at least we had maintained a 
profound silence; while each, to any casual observer, 
might have seemed intently and exclusively occupied with 
the curling eddies of smoke that oppressed the atmos- 
phere of the chamber. For myself, however, I was men- 
tally discussing certain topics which had formed matter 
for conversation between us at an earlier period of the 
evening; I mean the affair of the Rue Morgue, and the 



mystery attending the murder of Marie Roget. I looked 
upon it, therefore, as something of a coincidence, when 
the door of our apartment was thrown open and admitted 

our old acquaintance. Monsieur G > the Prefect of the 

Parisian police. 

We gave him a hearty welcome; for there was nearly 
half as much of the entertaining as of the contemptible 
about the man, and we had not seen him for several 
years. We had been sitting in the dark, and Dupin now 
arose for the purpose of lighting a lamp, but sat down 
again, without doing so, upon G.’s saying that he had 
called to consult us, or rather to ask the opinion of my 
friend, about some official business which had occasioned 
a great deal of trouble. 

“If it is any point requiring reflection,” observed 
Dupin, as he forbore to enkindle the wick, “we shall ex- 
amine it to better purpose in the dark.” 

“That is another of your odd notions,” said the Prefect, 
who had a fashion of calling everything “odd” that was 
beyond his comprehension, and thus lived amid an abso- 
lute legion of “oddities.” 

“Very true,” said Dupin, as he supplied his visitor with 
a pipe, and rolled towards him a comfortable chair. 

“And what is the difficulty now?” I asked. “Nothing 
more in the assassination way, I hope ?” 

“Oh no ; nothing of that nature. The fact is, the busi- 
ness is very simple indeed, and I make no doubt that we 
can manage it sufficiently well ourselves ; but then I 
thought Dupin would like to hear the details of it, because 
it is so excessively odd .” 

“Simple and odd,” said Dupin. 

“Why, yes; and not exactly that either. The fact is, 
we have all been a good deal puzzled because the aifair is 
so simple, and yet baffles us altogether.” 

“Perhaps it is the very simplicity of the thing which 
puts you at fault,” said my friend. 


“What nonsense you do talk!” replied the Prefect, 
laughing heartily. 

“Perhaps the mystery is a little too plain,” said Dupin. 

“Oh, good heavens! who ever heard of such an idea?” 

“A little too self-evident.” 

“Ha ! ha ! ha ! — ha ! ha ! ha ! — ho ! ho ! ho !” roared our 
visitor, profoundly amused. “Oh, Dupin, you will be the 
death of me yet !” 

“And what, after all, is the matter on hand?” I asked. 

“Why, I will tell you,” replied the Prefect, as he gave a 
long, steady, and contemplative puff, and settled himself 
in his chair. “I will tell you in a few words; but, be- 
fore I begin, let me caution you that this is an affair de- 
manding the greatest secrecy, and that I should most 
probably lose the position I now hold were it known that 
I confided it to any one.” 

“Proceed,” said I. 

“Or not.” said Dupin. 

“Well, then; I have received personal information from 
a very high quarter that a certain document of the last 
importance has been purloined from the royal apartments. 
The individual who purloined it is known; this beyond a 
doubt; he was seen to take it. It is known, also, that it 
still remains in his possession.” 

“How is this known?” asked Dupin. 

“It is clearly inferred,” replied the Prefect, “from the 
nature of the document, and from the non-appearance of 
certain results which would at once arise from its passing 
out of the robber’s possession; — that is to say, from his 
employing it as he must design in the end to employ it.” 

“Be a little more explicit,” I said. 

“Well, I may venture so far as to say that the paper 
gives its holder a certain power in a certain quarter where 
such power is immensely valuable.” The Prefect was 
fond of the cant of diplomacy. 

“Still I do not quite understand,” said Dupin. 



“No? Well; the disclosure of the document to a third 
person who shall be nameless would bring in question the 
honor of a personage of most exalted station; and this 
fact gives the holder of the document an ascendency over 
the illustrious personage whose honor and peace are so 

“But this ascendency/' I interposed, “would depend 
upon the robber's knowledge of the loser's knowledge of 
the robber. Who would dare " 

“The thief," said G , “is the Minister D , who 

dares all things, those unbecoming, as well as those be- 
coming a man. The method of the theft was not less in- 
genious than bold. The document in question — a letter, 
to be frank — had been received by the personage robbed 
while alone in the royal boudoir . During its perusal she 
was suddenly interrupted by the entrance of the other 
exalted personage from whom especially it was her wish 
to conceal it. After a hurried and vain endeavor to thrust 
it in a drawer, she was forced to place it, open as it was, 
upon a table. The address, however, was uppermost, and 
the contents thus unexposed, the letter escaped notice. At 

this juncture enters the Minister D . His lynx eye 

immediately perceives the paper, recognizes the hand- 
writing of the address, observes the confusion of the per- 
sonage addressed, and fathoms her secret. After some 
business transactions, hurried through in his ordinary 
manner, he produces a letter somewhat similar to the one 
in question, opens it, pretends to read it, and then places 
it in close juxtaposition to the other. Again he converses 
for some fifteen minutes upon the public affairs. At 
length, in taking leave, he takes also from the table the 
letter to which he had no claim. Its rightful owner saw, 
but, of course, dared not call attention to the act in the 
presence of the third personage who stood at her elbow. 
The minister decamped ; leaving his own letter — one of no 
importance — upon the table." 


“Here then,” said Dupin to me, “you have precisely 
what you demand to make the ascendency complete — the 
robber’s knowledge of the loser’s knowledge of the rob- 

“Yes,” replied the Prefect; “and the power thus at- 
tained has, for some months past, been wielded for politi- 
cal purposes to a very dangerous extent. The personage 
robbed is more thoroughly convinced every day of the 
necessity of reclaiming her letter. But this of course can- 
not be done openly. In fine, driven to despair, she has 
committed the matter to me.” 

“Than whom,” said Dupin, amid a perfect whirlwind 
of smoke, “no more sagacious agent could, I suppose, be 
desired, or even imagined.” 

“You flatter me,” replied the Prefect; “but it is pos- 
sible that some such opinion may have been enter- 

“It is clear,” said I, “as you observe, that the letter is 
still in possession of the minister ; since it is this posses- 
sion, and not any employment of the letter, which bestows 
the power. With the employment the power departs.” 

“True,” said G ; “and upon this conviction I pro- 

ceeded. My first care was to make thorough search of 
the minister’s hotel; and here my chief embarrassment 
lay in the necessity of searching without his knowledge. 
Beyond all things, I have been warned of the danger 
which would result from giving him reason to suspect our 

“But,” said I, “you are quite au fait in these investi- 
gations. The Parisian police have done this thing often 

“O yes; and for this reason I did not despair. The 
habits of the minister gave me, too, a great advantage. 
He is frequently absent from home all night. His serv- 
ants are by no means numerous. They sleep at a distance 
from their master’s apartment, and being chiefly Neapoli- 



tans, are readily made drunk. I have keys, as you know, 
with which I can open any chamber or cabinet in Paris. 
For three months a night has not passed, during the 
greater part of which I have not been engaged, personally, 

in ransacking the D Hotel. My honor is interested, 

and, to mention a great secret, the reward is enormous. 
So I did not abandon the search until I had become fully 
satisfied that the thief is a more astute man than myself. 
I fancy that I have investigated every nook and corner 
of the premises in which it is possible that the paper can 
be concealed.” 

“But is it not possible/’ I suggested, “that although the 
letter may be in possession of the minister, as it unques- 
tionably is, he may have concealed it elsewhere than upon 
his own premises?” 

“This is barely possible,” said Dupin. “The present 
peculiar condition of affairs at court, and especially of 

those intrigues in which D is known to be involved, 

would render the instant availability of the document — its 
susceptibility of being produced at a moment’s notice — a 
point of nearly equal importance with its possession.” 

“Its susceptibility of being produced?” said I. 

“That is to say of being destroyed ,” said Dupin. 

“True,” I observed; “the paper is clearly then upon 
the premises. As for its being upon the person of the 
minister, we may consider that as out of the question.” 

“Entirely,” said the Prefect. “Pie has been twice way- 
laid, as if by footpads, and his person rigorously searched 
under my own inspection.” 

“You might have spared yourself this trouble,” said 

Dupin. “D , I presume, is not altogether a fool, and, 

if not, must have anticipated these waylayings as a mat- 
ter of course.” 

“Not altogether a fool,” said G ; “but then he’s a 

poet, which I take to be only one remove from a fool.” 

“True.” said Dupin, after a long and thoughtful whiff 


from his meerschaum, “although I have been guilty of 
certain doggerel myself.” 

“Suppose you detail/’ said I, “the particulars of your 

“Why, the fact is, we took our time, and we searched 
everywhere . I have had long experience in these affairs. 
I took the entire building, room by room ; devoting the 
nights of a whole week to each. We examined, first, the 
furniture of each apartment. We opened every possible 
drawer; and I presume you know that, to a properly 
trained police-agent, such a thing as a secret drawer is 
impossible. Any man is a dolt who permits a ‘secret’ 
drawer to escape him in a search of this kind. The thing 
is so plain. There is a certain amount of bulk — of space 
— to be accounted for in every cabinet. Then we have 
accurate rules. The fiftieth part of a line could not escape 
us. After the cabinets we took the chairs. The cushions 
we probed with the fine long needles you have seen me em- 
ploy. From the tables we removed the tops.” 

“Why so?” 

“Sometimes the top of a table, or other similarly ar- 
ranged piece of furniture, is removed by the person wish- 
ing to conceal an article ; then the leg is excavated, the 
article deposited within the cavity, and the top replaced. 
The bottoms and tops of bedposts are employed in the 
same way.” 

“But could not the cavity be detected by sounding?” I 

“By no means, if, when the article is deposited, a suffi- 
cient wadding of cotton be placed around it. Besides, in 
our case, we were obliged to proceed without noise.” 

“But you could not have removed — you could not have 
taken to pieces all articles of furniture in which it would 
have been possible to make a deposit in the manner you 
mention. A letter may be compressed into a thin spiral 
roll, not differing much in shape or bulk from a large 



knitting-needle, and in this form it might be inserted into 
the rung of a chair, for example. You did not take to 
pieces all the chairs ?” 

“Certainly not; but we did better — we examined the 
rungs of every chair in the hotel, and, indeed, the joint- 
ings of every description of furniture, by the aid of a 
most powerful microscope. Had there been any traces of 
recent disturbance we should not have failed to detect it 
instantly. A single grain of gimlet-dust, for example, 
would have been as abvious as an apple. Any disorder in 
the gluing — any unusual gaping in the joints — would have 
sufficed to insure detection.” 

“I presume you looked to the mirrors, between the 
boards and the plates, and you probed the beds and the 
bedclothes, as well as the curtains and carpets.” 

“That of course; and when we had absolutely com- 
pleted every particle of the furniture in this way, then we 
examined the house itself. We divided its entire surface 
into compartments, which we numbered, so that none 
might be missed; then we scrutinized each individual 
square inch throughout the premises, including the two 
houses immediately adjoining, with the microscope, as 

“The two houses adjoining?” I exclaimed; “you must 
have had a great deal of trouble.” 

“We had; but the reward offered is prodigious.” 

“You include the grounds about the houses?” 

“All the grounds are paved with brick. They gave us 
comparatively little trouble. We examined the moss be- 
tween the bricks, and found it undisturbed.” 

“You looked among D ’s papers, of course, and into 

the books of the library?” 

“Certainly; we opened every package and parcel; we 
not only opened every book, but we turned over every 
leaf in each volume, not contenting ourselves with a mere 
shake, according to the fashion of some of our police- 


officers. We also measured the thickness of every book- 
cover , with the most accurate admeasurement, and applied 
to each the most jealous scrutiny of the microscope. Had 
any of the bindings been recently meddled with, it would 
have been utterly impossible that the fact should have 
escaped observation. Some five or six volumes, just 
from the hands of the binder, we carefully probed, longi- 
tudinally, with the needles. ,, 

“You explored the floors beneath the carpets ?” 

“Beyond doubt. We removed every carpet, and ex- 
amined the boards with the microscope. ,, 

“And the paper on the walls ?” 


“You looked into the cellars?” 

“We did.” 

“Then,” I said, “you have been making a miscalcula- 
tion, and the letter is not upon the premises, as you sup- 

“I fear you are right there,” said the Prefect. “And 
now, Dupin, what would you advise me to do ?” 

“To make a thorough research of the premises.” 

“That is absolutely needless,” replied G . “I am 

not more sure that I breathe than I am that the letter is 
not at the hotel.” 

“I have no better advice to give you,” said Dupin. 
“You have, of course, an accurate description of the let- 
ter ?” 

“Oh yes!” And here the Prefect, producing a mem- 
orandum-book, proceeded to read aloud a minute account 
of the internal, and especially of the external, appearance 
of the missing document. Soon after finishing the 
perusal of this description, he took his departure, more 
entirely depressed in spirits than I had ever known the 
good gentleman before. 

In about a month afterwards he paid us another visit, 
and found us occupied very nearly as before. He took a 



pipe and a chair and entered into some ordinary conversa- 
tion. At length I said : 

“Well, but G , what of the purloined letter? I pre- 

sume you have at last made up your mind that there is 
no such thing as overreaching the Minister ?” 

“Confound him, say I — yes; I made the re-examina- 
tion, however, as Dupin suggested — but it was all labor 
lost, as I knew it would be.” 

“How much was the reward offered, did you say?” 
asked Dupin. 

“Why, a very great deal — a very liberal reward — I 
don't like to say how much, precisely ; but one thing I will 
say, that I wouldn't mind giving my individual check for 
fifty thousand francs to any one who could obtain me that 
letter. The fact is, it is becoming of more and more im- 
portance every day ; and the reward has been lately 
doubled. If it were trebled, however, I could do no more 
than I have done.” 

“Why, yes,” said Dupin, drawlingly, between the whiffs 

of his meerschaum, “I really — think, G , you have not 

exerted yourself — to the utmost in this matter. You 
might — do a little more, I think, eh ?” 

“How? — in what way?” 

“Why — puff, puff — you might — puff, puff — employ 
counsel in the matter, eh? — puff, puff, puff. Do you re- 
member the story they tell of Abernethy?” 

“No; hang Abernethy!” 

“To be sure! hang him and welcome. But, once upon 
a time, a certain rich miser conceived the design of spong- 
ing upon this Abernethy for a medical opinion. Getting 
up, for this purpose, an ordinary conversation in a pri- 
vate company, he insinuated the case to his physician as 
that of an imaginary individual. 

“ ‘We will suppose/ said the miser, ‘that his symptoms 
are such and such; now, doctor, what would you have 
directed him to take?' 


“ ‘Take !’ said Abernethy, ‘why, take advice , to be sure/ ” 
“But/’ said the Prefect, a little discomposed, “/ am per- 
fectly willing to take advice, and to pay for it. I would 
really give fifty thousand francs to any who would aid 
me in the matter/’ 

“In that case,” replied Dupin, opening a drawer and 
producing a check-book, “you may as well fill me up a 
check for the amount mentioned. When you have signed 
it, I will hand you the letter.” 

I was astounded. The Prefect appeared absolutely 
thunder-stricken. For some minutes he remained speech- 
less and motionless, looking incredulously at my friend 
with open mouth, and eyes that seemed starting from 
their sockets ; then, apparently recovering himself in some 
measure, he seized a pen, and after several pauses and 
vacant stares, finally filled up and signed a check for fifty 
thousand francs, and handed it across the table to Dupin. 
The latter examined it carefully and deposited it in his 
pocketbook; then, unlocking an escritoire , took thence a 
letter and gave it to the Prefect. This functionary grasped 
it in a perfect agony of joy, opened it with a trembling 
hand, cast a rapid glance at its contents, and then 
scrambling and struggling to the door, rushed at length 
unceremoniously from the room and from the house, with- 
out having uttered a syllable since Dupin had requested 
him to fill up the check. 

When he had gone my friend entered into some ex- 

“The Parisian police,” he said, “are exceedingly able in 
their way. They are persevering, ingenious, cunning, 
and thoroughly versed in the knowledge which their duties 

seem chiefly to demand. Thus, when G- detailed to 

us his mode of searching the premises at the Hotel D , 

I felt entire confidence in his having made a satisfactory 
investigation — so far as his labors extended.” 

“So far as his labors extended?” said I. 



“Yes,” said Dupin. “The measures adopted were not 
only the best of their kind, but carried out to absolute 
perfection. Had the letter been deposited within the 
range of their search, these fellows would, beyond ques- 
tion, have found it.” 

I merely laughed, but he seemed quite serious in all that 
he said. 

“The measures, then,” he continued, “were good in 
their kind, and well executed, their defect lay in their be- 
ing inapplicable to the case, and to the man. A certain 
set of highly ingenious resources are with the Prefect a 
sort of Procrustean bed, to which he forcibly adapts his 
designs. But he perpetually errs by being too deep or 
too shallow for the matter in hand, and many a school- 
boy is a better reasoner than he. I knew one about eight 
years of age, whose success at guessing in the game of 
‘even and odd' attracted universal admiration. This game 
is simple, and is played with marbles. One player holds 
in his hand a number of these toys, and demands of an- 
other whether that number is even or odd. If the guess is 
right the guesser wins one, if wrong, he loses one. The 
boys to whom I allude won all the marbles of the school. 
Of course he had some principle of guessing, and this lay 
in mere observation and admeasurement of the astuteness 
of his opponents. For example, an arrant simpleton is his 
opponent, and holding up his closed hand asks, ‘Are they 
even or odd?’ Our schoolboy replies, ‘Odd/ and loses, 
but upon the second trial he wins, for he then says to 
himself, ‘The simpleton had them even upon the first 
trial, and his amount of cunning is just sufficient to make 
him have them odd upon the second, I will therefore 
guess odd/ he guesses odd, and wins. Now with a simple- 
ton a degree above the first he would have reasoned thus : 
‘This fellow finds that in the first instance I guessed odd, 
and in the second he will propose to himself upon the first 
impulse, a simple variation from even to odd, as did the 


first simpleton, but then a second thought will suggest 
that this is too simple a variation, and finally he will de- 
cide upon putting it even as before. I will therefore guess 
even/ he guesses even, and wins. Now this mode of rea- 
soning in the schoolboy, whom his fellows termed ‘lucky/ 
what in its last analysis is it ?" 

“It is merely/' I said, “an identification of the rea- 
soner's intellect with that of his opponent." 

“It is," said Dupin, “and upon inquiring of the boy by 
what means he effected the thorough identification in 
which his success consisted, I received answer as follows : 
‘When I wish to find out how wise, or how stupid, or how 
good, or how wicked is any one, or what are his thoughts 
at the moment, I fashion the expression of my face as 
accurately as possible in accordance with the expression of 
his, and then wait to see what thoughts or sentiments arise 
in my mind or heart, as if to match or correspond with 
the expression/ This response of the schoolboy lies at 
the bottom of all the spurious profundity which has been 
attributed to Rochefoucauld, to La Bruyere, to Machia- 
velli, and the Campanella." 

“And the identification," I said, “of the reasoner's in- 
tellect with that of his opponent depends, if I understand 
you aright, upon the accuracy with which the opponent's 
intellect is admeasured." 

“For its practical value it depends upon this," replied 
Dupin, “and the Prefect and his cohort fail so frequently, 
first, by default of this identification, and secondly, by ill- 
admeasurement, or rather through non-admeasurement 
of the intellect with which they are engaged. They con- 
sider only their own ideas of ingenuity, and in searching 
for anything hidden, advert only to the modes in which 
they would have hidden it. They are right in this much, 
that their own ingenuity is a faithful representative of 
that of the mass; but when the cunning of the individual 
felon is diverse in character from their own, the felon 



foils them of course. This always happens when it is 
above their own, and very usually when it is below. They 
have no variation of principle in their investigations ; at 
best, when urged by some unusual emergency, by some 
extraordinary reward, they extend or exaggerate their 
old modes of practice without touching their principles. 

What, for example, in this case of D has been done 

to vary the principle of action? What is all this boring 
and probing and sounding and scrutinizing with the mi- 
croscope, and dividing the surface of the building into 
registered square inches — what is it all but an exaggera- 
tion of the application of the one principle or set of prin- 
ciples of search, which are based upon the one set of 
notions regarding human ingenuity, to which the Prefect 
in the long routine of his duty has been accustomed? Do 
you not see he has taken it for granted that all men pro- 
ceed to conceal a letter — not exactly in a gimlet-hole bored 
in a chair-leg — but, at least, in some out-of-the-way hole or 
corner suggested by the same tenor of thought which would 
urge a man to secrete a letter in a gimlet-hole bored in a 
chair-leg? And do you not see also that such recherche 
nooks for concealment are adapted only for ordinary oc- 
casions, and would be adopted only by ordinary intellects, 
for, in all cases of concealment, a disposal of the article 
concealed, a disposal of it in this recherche manner, is in 
the very first instance presumable and presumed, and thus 
its discovery depends, not at all upon the acumen, but al- 
together upon the mere care, patience and determination 
of the seekers; and where the case is of importance, or 
what amounts to the same thing in the policial eyes, when 
the reward is of magnitude, the qualities in question have 
never been known to fail? You will now understand 
what I meant in suggesting that had the purloined letter 
been hidden anywhere within the limits of the Prefect's 
examination — in other words, had the principle of its 
concealment been comprehended within the principles of 


the Prefect, its discovery would have been a matter alto- 
gether beyond question. This functionary, however, has 
been thoroughly mystified, and the remote source of his 
defeat lies in the supposition that the Minister is a fool 
because he has acquired renown as a poet. All fools are 
poets, this the Prefect feels , and he is merely guilty of a 
non distributio medii in thence inferring that all poets are 

“But is this really the poet?” I asked. “There are two 
brothers, I know, and both have attained reputation in 
letters. The Minister, I believe, has written learnedly 
on the Differential Calculus. He is a mathematician and 
no poet.” 

“You are mistaken; I know him well; he is both. As 
poet and mathematician he would reason well ; as mere 
mathematician he could not have reasoned at all, and thus 
would have been at the mercy of the Prefect.” 

“You surprise me,” I said, “by these opinions, which 
have been contradicted by the voice of the world. You do 
not mean to set at naught the well-digested idea of cen- 
turies. The mathematical reason has long been regarded 
as the reason par excellence .” 

“ 77 y a a parier,’ ” replied Dupin, quoting from Cham- 
fort, “ ‘que toute idee publique, toute convention recue , 
est une sottise , car die a convenu au plus grand nombre 
The mathematicians, I grant you, have done their best to 
promulgate the popular error to which you allude, and 
which is none the less an error for its promulgation as 
truth. With an art worthy a better cause, for example, 
they have insinuated the term ‘analysis’ into application 
to algebra. The French are the originators of this par- 
ticular deception, but if a term is of any importance, if 
words derive any value from applicability, then ‘analysis’ 
conveys ‘algebra’ about as much as, in Latin, ‘ ambitus' im- 
plies ‘ambition,’ ‘religio’ ‘religion,’ or ‘ homines honestif a 
set of honorable men.” 



“You have a quarrel on hands, I see,” said I, “with 
some of the algebraists of Paris; but proceed.” 

“I dispute the availability, and thus the value of that 
reason which is cultivated in any especial form other than 
the abstractly logical. I dispute, in particular, the reason 
educed by mathematical study. The mathematics are the 
science of form and quantity, mathematical reasoning is 
merely logic applied to observation upon form and quan- 
tity. The great error lies in supposing that even the 
truths of what is called pure algebra are abstract or gen- 
eral truths. And this error is so egregious that I am con- 
founded at the universality with which it has been re- 
ceived. Mathematical axioms are not axioms of general 
truth. What is true of relation — of form and quantity — 
is often grossly false in regard to morals, for example. 
In this latter science it is very usually unt rue that the ag- 
gregated parts are equal to the whole. In chemistry also 
the axiom fails. In the consideration of motive it fails, 
for two motives, each of a given value, have not neces- 
sarily a value when united equal to the sum of their values 
apart. There are numerous other mathematical truths 
which are only truths within the limits of relation . But 
the mathematician argues from his finite truths , through 
habit, as if they were of an absolutely general applicability 
— as the world indeed imagines them to be. Bryant, in 
his very learned ‘Mythology/ mentions an analogous 
source of error when he says that ‘although the Pagan 
fables are not believed, yet we forget ourselves contin- 
ually and make inferences from them as existing realities/ 
With the algebraists, however, who are Pagans them- 
selves, the ‘Pagan fables' are believed, and the inferences 
are made, not so much through lapse of memory as 
through an unaccountable addling of the brains. In 
short, I never yet encountered the mere mathematician 
who could be trusted out of equal roots, or one who did 
not clandestinely hold it as a point of his faith that 


x 2 -\-px was absolutely and unconditionally equal to q. 
Say to one of these gentlemen, by way of experiment, if 
you please, that you believe occasions may occur where 
x~-\-px is not altogether equal to q, and having made him 
understand what you mean, get out of his reach as 
speedily as convenient, for beyond doubt he will endeavor 
to knock you down. 

“I mean to say,” continued Dupin, while I merely 
laughed at his last observations, “that if the Minister had 
been no more than a mathematician, the Prefect would 
have been under no necessity of giving me this check. I 
knew him, however, as both mathematician and poet, and 
my measures were adapted to his capacity with reference 
to the circumstances by which he was surrounded. I 
knew him as a courtier, too, and as a bold intrigant . Such 
a man, I considered, could not fail to be aware of the 
ordinary policial modes of action. He could not have 
failed to anticipate — and events have proved that he did 
not fail to anticipate — -the waylayings to which he was 
subjected. He must have foreseen, I reflected, the secret 
investigations of his premises. His frequent absences 
from home at night, which were hailed by the Prefect as 
certain aids to his success, I regarded only as ruses, to 
afford opportunity for thorough search to the police, and 
thus the sooner to impress them with the conviction to 

which G , in fact, did finally arrive — the conviction 

that the letter was not upon the premises. I felt, also, 
that the whole train of thought which I was at some 
pains in detailing to you just now concerning the in- 
variable principle of policial action in searches for articles 
concealed— I felt that this whole train of thought would 
necessarily pass through the mind of the Minister. It 
would imperatively lead him to despise all the ordinary 
nooks of concealment. He could not, I reflected, be so 
weak as not to see that the most intricate and remote re- 
cess of his hotel would be as open as his commonest 



closets to the eyes, to the probes, to the gimlets, and to 
the microscopes of the Prefect. I saw, in fine, that he 
would be driven, as a matter of course, to simplicity , if 
not deliberately induced to it as a matter of choice. You 
will remember, perhaps, how desperately the Prefect 
laughed when I suggested, upon our first interview, that it 
was just possible this mystery troubled him so much on 
account of its being so very self-evident.” 

“Yes,” said I, “I remember his merriment well. I 
really thought he would have fallen into convulsions.” 
“The material world,” continued Dupin, “abounds with 
very strict analogies to the immaterial; and thus some 
color of truth has been given to the rhetorical dogma 
that metaphor or simile may be made to strengthen an 
argument as well as to embellish a description. The prin- 
ciple of the vis inertice , for example, seems to be identical 
in physics and metaphysics. It is not more true in the 
former that a large body is with more difficulty set in mo- 
tion than a smaller one, and that its subsequent momen- 
tum is commensurate with this difficulty, than it is, in the 
latter, that intellects of the vaster capacity, while more 
forcible, more constant, and more eventful in their move- 
ments than those of inferior grade, are yet the less readily 
moved, and more embarrassed and full of hesitation in 
the first few steps of their progress. Again; have you 
ever noticed which of the street signs over the shop doors 
are the most attractive of attention?” 

“I have never given the matter a thought,” I said. 
“There is a game of puzzles,” he resumed, “which is 
played upon a map. One party playing requires another 
to find a given word — the name of town, river, state, or 
empire — any word, in short, upon the motley and per- 
plexed surface of the chart. A novice in the game gen- 
erally seeks to embarrass his opponents by giving them 
the most minutely lettered names, but the adept selects 
such words as stretch, in large characters, from one end 



of the chart to the other. These, like the over-largely 
lettered signs and placards of the street, escape observa- 
tion by dint of being excessively obvious; and here the 
physical oversight is precisely analogous with the moral 
inapprehension by which the intellect suffers to pass un- 
noticed those considerations which are too obtrusively 
and too palpably self-evident. But this is a point, it ap- 
pears, somewhat above or beneath the understanding of 
the Prefect. He never once thought it probable, or pos- 
sible, that the Minister had deposited the letter imme- 
diately beneath the nose of the whole world, by way of best 
preventing any portion of that world from perceiving it. 

“But the more I reflected upon the daring, dashing, 

and discriminating ingenuity of D ; upon the fact that 

the document must always have been at hand if he in- 
tended to use it to good purpose; and upon the decisive 
evidence, obtained by the Prefect, that it was not hidden 
within the limits of that dignitary’s ordinary search — the 
more satisfied I became that, to conceal this letter, the 
Minister had resorted to the comprehensive and sagacious 
expedient of not attempting to conceal it at all. 

“Full of these ideas, I prepared myself with a pair of 
green spectacles, and called one fine morning, quite by 

accident, at the ministerial hotel. I found D at home, 

yawning, lounging, and dawdling, as usual, and pretend- 
ing to be in the last extremity of ennui . He is perhaps, 
the most really energetic human being now alive — but 
that is only when nobody sees him. 

“To be even with him, I complained of my weak eyes, 
and lamented the necessity of the spectacles, under cover 
of which I cautiously and thoroughly surveyed the whole 
apartment, while seemingly intent only upon the con- 
versation of my host. 

“I paid especial attention to a large writing-table near 
which he sat, and upon which lay confusedly some mis- 
cellaneous letters and other papers, with one or two musi- 



cal instruments and a few books. Here, however, after 
a long and very deliberate scrutiny, I saw nothing to ex- 
cite particular suspicion. 

“At length my eyes, in going the circuit of the room, 
fell upon a trumpery filagree card-rack of pasteboard that 
hung dangling by a dirty blue ribbon from a little brass 
knob just beneath the middle of the mantelpiece. In this 
rack, which had three or four compartments, were five 
or six visiting-cards and a solitary letter. This last was 
much soiled and crumpled. It was torn nearly in two, 
across the middle — as if a design, in the first instance, to 
tear it entirely up as worthless had been altered, or stayed, 
in the second. It had a large black seal, bearing the 

D cipher very conspicuously, and was addressed, in 

a diminutive female hand, to D , the Minister, him- 

self. It was thrust carelessly, and even, as it seemed, 
contemptuously, into one of the uppermost divisions of 
the rack. 

“No sooner had I glanced at this letter than I concluded 
it to be that of which I was in search. To be sure, it 
was to all appearance radically different from the one of 
which the Prefect had read us so minute a description. 

Here the seal was large and black, with the D cipher ; 

there it was small and red, with the ducal arms of the 

S family. Here the address, to the Minister, was 

diminutive and feminine; there the superscription, to a 
certain royal personage, was markedly bold and decided; 
the size alone formed a point of correspondence. But, 
then, the radicalness of these differences, which was ex- 
cessive; the dirt; the soiled and torn condition of the 
paper, so inconsistent with the true methodical habits of 
D , and so suggestive of a design to delude the be- 

holder into an idea of the worthlessness of the document : 
these things, together with the hyper-obtrusive situation 
of this document, full in the view of every visitor, and 
thus exactly in accordance with the conclusions to which 


I had previously arrived — these things, I say, were 
strongly corroborative of suspicion in one who came with 
the intention to suspect. 

“I protracted my visit as long as possible, and while I 
maintained a most animated discussion with the Minister 
upon a topic which I knew well had never failed to in- 
terest and excite him, I kept my attention really riveted 
upon the letter. In this examination I committed to 
memory its external appearance and arrangement in the 
rack; and also fell, at length, upon a discovery which set 
at rest whatever trivial doubt I might have entertained. 
In scrutinizing the edges of the paper I observed them to 
be more chafed than seemed necessary. They presented 
the broken appearance which is manifested when a stiff 
paper, having been once folded and pressed with a folder, 
is refolded in a reversed direction, in the same creases or 
edges which had formed the original fold. This dis- 
covery was sufficient. It was clear to me that the letter 
had been turned as a glove, inside out, redirected and re- 
sealed. I bade the Minister good-morning and took my 
departure at once, leaving a gold snuff-box upon the table. 

“The next morning I called for the snuff-box, when we 
resumed quite eagerly the conversation of the preceding 
day. While thus engaged, however, a loud report, as if 
of a pistol, was heard immediately beneath the windows 
of the hotel, and was succeeded by a series of fearful 

screams, and the shoutings of a terrified mob. D 

rushed to a casement, threw it open and looked out. In 
the meantime I stepped to the card-rack, took the letter, 
put it in my pocket, and replaced it by a facsimile (so far 
as regards externals), which I had carefully prepared at 

my lodgings — imitating the D cipher very readily by 

means of a seal formed of bread. 

“The disturbance in the street had been occasioned by 
the frantic behavior of a man with a musket. He had 
fired it among a crowd of women and children. It proved, 



however, to have been without ball, and the fellow was 
suffered to go on his way as a lunatic or a drunkard. 

When he had gone, D came from the window, 

whither I had followed him immediately upon securing 
the object in view. Soon afterwards I bade him farewell. 
The pretended lunatic was a man in my own pay.” 

“But what purpose had you,” I asked, “in replacing the 
letter by a facsimile ? Would it not have been better at 
the first visit to have seized it openly and departed?” 

“D ,” replied Dupin, “is a desperate man and a man 

of nerve. His hotel, too, is not without attendants de- 
voted to his interests. Had I made the wild attempt you 
suggest I might never have left the ministerial presence 
alive. The good people of Paris might have heard 
of me no more. But I had an object apart from these 
considerations. You know my political prepossessions. 
In this matter, I act as a partisan of the lady concerned. 
For eighteen months the Minister has had her in his 
power. She has him now in hers — since, being unaware 
that the letter is not in his possession, he will proceed 
with his exactions as if it was. Thus will he inevitably 
commit himself at once to his political destruction. His 
downfall, too, will not be more precipitate than awkward. 
It is all very well to talk about the facilis descensus 
Averni , but in all kinds of climbing, as Catalani said of 
singing, it is far more easy to get up than to come down. 
In the present instance I have no sympathy — at least no 
pity — for him who descends. He is that monstrum hor- 
rendum, an unprincipled man of genius. I confess, how- 
ever, that I should like very well to know the precise 
character of his thoughts, when, being defied by her whom 
the Prefect terms ‘a certain personage/ he is reduced to 
opening the letter which I left for him in the card-rack.” 
“How ? did you put anything particular in it ?” 

“Why — it did not seem altogether right to leave the in- 
terior blank — that would have been insulting. D , at 


Vienna, once did me an evil turn, which I told him, quite 
good-humoredly, that I should remember. So, as I knew 
he would feel some curiosity in regard to the identity of 
the person who had outwitted him, I thought it a pity not 
to give him a clue. He is well acquainted with my MS., 
and I just copied into the middle of the blank sheet the 
words — 

* Un dessein si funeste, 

S’il n’est digne d’Atree, est digne de Thyeste.* 

They are to be found in Crebillon’s ‘Atree/ ” 


Ill-fated and mysterious man! — bewildered in the 
brilliancy of thine own imagination, and fallen in the 
flames of thine own youth ! Again in fancy I behold thee ! 
Once more thy form hath risen before me ! — not — oh, not 
as thou art — in the cold valley and shadow — but as thou 
shouldst be — squandering away a life of magnificent 
meditation in that city of dim visions, thine own Venice 
— which is a star-beloved Elysium of the sea, and the wide 
windows of whose Palladian palaces look down with a 
deep and bitter meaning upon the secrets of her silent 
waters. Yes, I repeat it — as thou shouldst be. There are 
surely other worlds than this — other thoughts than the 
thoughts of the multitude— other speculations than the 
speculations of the sophist. Who then shall call thy con- 
duct into question? who blame thee for thy visionary 
hours, or denounce those occupations as a wasting away 
of life, which were but the overflowings of thine ever- 
lasting energies? 

It was at Venice, beneath the covered archway there 



called the Ponte di Sospiri, that I met for the third or 
fourth time the person of whom I speak. It is with a 
confused recollection that I bring to mind the circum- 
stances of that meeting. Yet I remember — ah! how 
should I forget? — the deep midnight, the Bridge of 
Sighs, the beauty of woman, and the Genius of Romance 
that stalked up and down the narrow canal. 

It was a night of unusual gloom. The great clock of 
the Piazza had sounded the fifth hour of the Italian eve- 
ning. The square of the Campanile lay silent and de- 
serted, and the lights in the old Ducal Palace were dying 
fast away. I was returning home from the Piazetta by 
way of the Grand Canal. But as my gondola arrived op- 
posite the mouth of the canal San Marco, a female voice 
from its recesses broke suddenly upon the night in one 
wild, hysterical, and long-continued shriek. Startled at 
the sound, I sprang upon my feet; while the gondolier, 
letting slip his single oar, lost it in the pitchy darkness 
beyond a chance of recovery, and we were consequently 
left to the guidance of the current, which here sets from 
the greater into the smaller channel. Like some huge and 
sable-feathered condor, we were slowly drifting down to- 
wards the Bridge of Sighs, when a thousand flambeaux 
flashing from the windows, and down the staircases of 
the Ducal Palace, turned all at once that deep gloom into 
a livid and preternatural day. 

A child, slipping from the arms of its own mother, had 
fallen from an upper window of the lofty structure into 
the deep and dim canal. The quiet waters had closed 
placidly over their victim ; and although my own gondola 
was the only one in sight, many a stout swimmer, already 
in the stream, was seeking in vain upon the surface the 
treasure which was to be found, alas! only within the 
abyss. Upon the broad black marble flagstones at the 
entrance of the palace, and a few steps above the water, 
stood a figure which none who then saw can have ever 


since forgotten. It was the Marchesa Aphrodite — the 
adoration of all Venice — the gayest of the gay — the most 
lovely where all were beautiful — but still the young wife 
of the old and intriguing Mentoni, and the mother of 
that fair child, her first and only one, who now, deep be- 
neath the murky water, was thinking in bitterness of 
heart upon her sweet caresses, and exhausting its little life 
in struggles to call upon her name. 

She stood alone. Her small, bare, and silvery feet 
gleamed in the black marble beneath her. Her hair, not 
as yet more than half loosened for the night from its 
ballroom array, clustered amid a shower of diamonds 
round and round her classical head, in curls like those of 
a young hyacinth. A snowy-white and gauze-like drapery 
seemed to be nearly the sole covering to her delicate form ; 
but the midsummer and midnight air was hot, sullen, and 
still, and no motion in the statue-like form itself stirred 
even the folds of that raiment of very vapor which hung 
around it as the heavy marble hangs around the Niobe. 
Yet — strange to say! — her large lustrous eyes were not 
turned downwards upon that grave wherein her brightest 
hope lay buried — but riveted in a widely different direc- 
tion! The prison of the Old Republic is, I think, the 
stateliest building in all Venice; but how could that lady 
gaze so fixedly upon it, when beneath her lay stifling her 
own child? Yon dark gloomy niche, too, yawns right op- 
posite her chamber window — what then could there be in 
its shadows, in its architecture, in its ivy-wreathed and 
solemn cornices — that the Marchesa di Mentoni had not 
wondered at a thousand times before? Nonsense! — Who 
does not remember, that at such a time as this, the eye, 
like a shattered mirror, multiplies the images of its sor- 
row, and sees in innumerable far-off places the woe which 
is close at hand ? 

Many steps above the Marchesa, and within the arch of 
the water-gate, stood, in full dress, the Satyr-like figure 



of Mentoni himself. He was occasionally occupied in 
thrumming a guitar, and seemed ennuye to the very 
death, as at intervals he gave directions for the recovery 
of his child. Stupefied and aghast, I had myself no 
power to move from the upright position I had assumed 
upon first hearing the shriek, and must have presented to 
the eyes of the agitated group a spectral and ominous ap- 
pearance, as with pale countenance and rigid limbs I 
floated down among them in that funereal gondola. 

All efforts proved in vain. Many of the most energetic 
in the search were relaxing their exertions, and yielding 
to a gloomy sorrow. There seemed but little hope for the 
child (how much less then for the mother!) ; but now, 
from the interior of that dark niche which had been al- 
ready mentioned as forming a part of the Old Republican 
prison, and as fronting the lattice of the Marchesa, a 
figure muffled in a cloak stepped out within reach of the 
light, and pausing a moment upon the verge of the giddy 
descent, plunged headlong into the canal. As in an in- 
stant afterwards he stood with the still living and breath- 
ing child within his grasp upon the marble flagstones by 
the side of the Marchesa, his cloak heavy with the drench- 
ing water became unfastened, and, falling in folds about 
his feet, discovered to the wonder-stricken spectators the 
graceful person of a very young man, with the sound of 
whose name the greater part of Europe was then ringing. 

No word spoke the deliverer. But the Marchesa! She 
will now receive her child — she will press it to her heart — 
she will cling to its little form, and smother it with her 
caresses. Alas ! another's arms have taken it from the 
stranger — another's arms have taken it away, and borne it 
afar off, unnoticed, into the palace ! And the Marchesa ! 
Her lip — her beautiful lip trembles: tears are gathering 
in her eyes — those eyes which, like Pliny’s acanthus, are 
“soft and almost liquid.” Yes! tears are gathering in 
those eyes — and see ! the entire woman thrills throughout 


the soul, and the statue has started into life ! The pallor 
of the marble countenance, the swelling of the marble 
bosom, the very purity of the marble feet, we behold sud- 
denly flushed over with a tide of ungovernable crimson; 
and a slight shudder quivers about her delicate frame, as 
a gentle air at Napoli about the rich silver lilies in the 

Why should that lady blush? To this demand there is 
no answer, — except that having left, in the eager haste 
and terror of the mother’s heart, the privacy of her own 
boudoir, she has neglected to enthral her tiny feet in their 
slippers, and utterly forgotten to throw over her Vene- 
tian shoulders that drapery which is their due. What 
other possible reason could there have been for her so 
blushing? — for the glance of those wild, appealing eyes? 
for the unusual tumult of that throbbing bosom? for 
the convulsive pressure of that trembling hand? — that 
hand which fell, as Mentoni turned into the palace, acci- 
dentally upon the hand of the stranger? What reason 
could there have been for the low — the singularly low 
tone of those unmeaning words which the lady uttered 
hurriedly in bidding him adieu? “Thou hast conquered/’ 
she said, or the murmurs of the water deceived me ; “thou 
hast conquered — one hour after sunrise — we shall meet 
— so let it be !” 

The tumult had subsided, the lights had died away 
within the palace, and the stranger whom I now recog- 
nized stood alone upon the flags. He shook with incon- 
ceivable agitation, and his eye glanced around in search 
of a gondola. I could not do less than offer him the serv- 
ice of my own ; and he accepted the civility. Having ob- 
tained an oar at the water-gate, we proceeded together 
to his residence, while he rapidly recovered his self-pos- 
session, and spoke of our former slight acquaintance in 
terms of great apparent cordiality. 



There are some subjects upon which I take pleasure in 
being minute. The person of the stranger — let me call 
him by this title, who to all the world was still a stranger 
— the person of the stranger is one of these subjects. In 
height he might have been below rather than above the 
medium size; although there were moments of intense 
passion when his frame actually expanded and belied the 
assertion. The light, almost slender symmetry of his 
figure promised more of that ready activity which he 
evinced at the Bridge of Sighs, than of that Herculean 
strength which he has been known to wield without an 
effort upon occasions of more dangerous emergency. 
With the mouth and chin of a deity — singular, wild, full, 
liquid eyes, whose shadows varied from pure hazel to in- 
tense and brilliant jet — and a profusion of curling black 
hair, from which a forehead of unusual breadth gleamed 
forth at intervals all light and ivory — his were features 
than which I have seen none more classically regular, ex- 
cept perhaps the marble ones of the Emperor Commodus. 
Yet his countenance was, nevertheless, one of those which 
all men have seen at some period of their lives, and have 
never afterwards seen again. It had no peculiar — it had 
no settled predominant expression to be fastened upon the 
memory; a countenance seen and instantly forgotten, but 
forgotten with a vague and never-ceasing desire of recall- 
ing it to mind. Not that the spirit of each rapid passion 
failed, at any time, to throw its own distinct image upon 
the mirror of that face., but that the mirror, mirror-like, 
retained no vestige of the passion when the passion had 

Upon leaving him on the night of our adventure, he 
i solicited me, in what I thought an urgent manner, to call 
upon him very early the next morning. Shortly after 
sunrise I found myself accordingly at his Palazzo, one of 
those huge structures of gloomy, yet fantastic pomp, which 
tower above the waters of the Grand Canal in the vicinity 


of the Rialto. I was shown up a broad winding stair- 
case of mosaics into an apartment whose unparalleled 
splendor burst through the opening door with an 
actual glare, making me blind and dizzy with luxurious- 

I knew my acquaintance to be wealthy. Report had 
spoken of his possessions in terms which I had even ven- 
tured to call terms of ridiculous exaggeration, but as I 
gazed about me I could not bring myself to believe that 
the wealth of any subject in Europe could have supplied 
the princely magnificence which burned and blazed 

Although, as I say, the sun had arisen, yet the room was 
still brilliantly lighted up. I judge from this circum- 
stance, as well as from an air of exhaustion in the coun- 
tenance of my friend, that he had not retired to bed 
during the whole of the preceding night. In the archi- 
tecture and embellishments of the chamber, the evident 
design had been to dazzle and astound. Little attention 
had been paid to the decora of what is technically called 
keeping , or to the proprieties of nationality. The eye 
wandered from object to object, and rested upon none — 
neither the grotesques of the Greek painters, nor the 
sculptures of the best Italian days, nor the huge carvings 
of untutored Egypt. Rich draperies in every part of 
the room trembled to the vibration of low, melancholy 
music, whose origin was not to be discovered. The senses 
were oppressed by mingled and conflicting perfumes, 
reeking up from strange convolute censers, together with 
multitudinous flaring and flickering tongues of emerald 
and violet fire. The rays of the newly risen sun poured 
in upon the whole, through windows, formed each of a 
single pane of crimson-tinted glass. Glancing to and fro, 
in a thousand reflections, from curtains which rolled from 
their cornices like cataracts of molten silver, the beams 
of natural glory mingled at length fitfully with the arti- 



ficial light, and lay weltering in subdued masses upon a 
carpet of rich, liquid-looking cloth of Chili gold. 

“Ha ! ha! ha! — ha! ha! ha!” laughed the proprietor, 
motioning me to a seat as I entered the room, and throwing 
himself back at full length upon an ottoman. “I see,” said 
he, perceiving that I could not immediately reconcile my- 
self to the bienseance of so singular a welcome — “I see 
you are astonished at my apartment — at my statues — my 
pictures — my originality of conception in architecture and 
upholstery! absolutely drunk, eh, with my magnificence? 
But pardon me, my dear sir (here his tone of voice 
dropped to the very spirit of cordiality), pardon me for 
my uncharitable laughter. You appeared so utterly as- 
tonished. Besides, some things are so completely ludi- 
crous that a man must laugh or die. To die laughing 
must be the most glorious of all glorious deaths! Sir 
Thomas More — a very fine man was Sir Thomas More — 
Sir Thomas More died laughing, you remember. Also 
in the Absurdities of Ravisius Textor there is a long list 
of characters who came to the same magnificent end. Do 
you know, however,” continued he, musingly, “that at 
Sparta (which is now Palaeochori), at Sparta, I say, to 
the west of the citadel, among a chaos of scarcely visible 
ruins, is a kind of socle upon which are still legible the 
letters A ASM. They are undoubtedly part of TEA ASM A. 
Now, at Sparta were a thousand temples and shrines to 
a thousand different divinities. How exceedingly strange 
that the altar of Laughter should have survived all the 
others ! But in the present instance,” he resumed, with a 
singular alteration of voice and manner, “I have no right 
to be merry at your expense. You might well have been 
amazed. Europe cannot produce anything so fine as this 
my little regal cabinet. My other apartments are by no 
means of the same order — mere ultras of fashionable in- 
sipidity. This is better than fashion — is it not? Yet this 
has but to be seen to become the rage — that is with those 


who could afford it at the cost of their entire patrimony. 
I have guarded, however, against any such profanation. 
With one exception you are the only human being, be- 
sides myself and my valet , who has been admitted within 
the mysteries of these imperial precincts since they have 
been bedizened as you see !” 

I bowed in acknowledgment — for the overpowering 
sense of splendor, and perfume, and music, together with 
the unexpected eccentricity of his address and manner, 
prevented me from expressing in words my appreciation 
of what I might have construed into a compliment. 

“Here,” he continued, arising and leaning on my arm 
as he sauntered around the apartment — “here are paint- 
ings from the Greeks to Cimabue, and from Cimabue 
to the present hour. Many are chosen, as you see, with 
little deference to the opinions of Virtu. They are all, 
however, fitting tapestry for a chamber such as this. 
Here, too, are some chef d’ oeuvres of the unknown great ; 
and here unfinished designs by men celebrated in their 
day, whose very names the perspicacity of the academies 
has left to silence and to me. What think you,” said he, 
turning abruptly as he spoke — “what think you of this 
Madonna della Pieta ?” 

“It is Guido's own,” I said, with all the enthusiasm of 
my nature, for I had been poring intently over its sur- 
passing loveliness. “It is Guido's own ! — how could you 
have obtained it? — she is undoubtedly in painting what 
the Venus is in sculpture.” 

“Ha!” said he thoughtfully, “the Venus — the beautiful 
Venus? — the Venus of the Medici? — she of the diminu- 
tive head and the gilded hair? Part of the left arm” 
(here his voice dropped so as to be heard with difficulty) 
“and all the right are restorations ; and in the coquetry of 
that right arm lies, I think, the quintessence of all affec- 
tation. Give me the Canova ! The Apollo, too, is a copy — 
there can be no doubt of it — blind fool that I am who 



cannot behold the boasted inspiration of the Apollo! I 
cannot help — pity me ! — I cannot help preferring the An- 
tinous. Was it not Socrates who said that the statuary 
found his statue in the block of marble? Then Michael 
Angelo was by no means original in his couplet — 

“ ‘Non ha Tottimo artista alcun concetto 
Che un marmo solo in se non circonscriva.’ ” 

It has been or should be remarked that in the manner 
of the true gentleman we are always aware of a difference 
from the bearing of the vulgar, without being at once pre- 
cisely able to determine in what such difference consists. 
Allowing the remark to have applied in its full force to 
the outward demeanor of my acquaintance, I felt it on 
that eventful morning still more fully applicable to his 
moral temperament and character. Nor can I better de- 
fine that peculiarity of spirit which seemed to place him 
so essentially apart from all other human beings, than by 
calling it a habit of intense and continual thought per- 
vading even his most trivial actions — intruding upon his 
moments of dalliance, and interweaving itself with his 
very flashes of merriment — like adders which writhe from 
out the eyes of the grinning masks in the cornices around 
the temples of Persepolis. 

I could not help, however, repeatedly observing through 
the mingled tone of levity and solemnity with which he 
rapidly descanted upon matters of little importance, a 
certain air of trepidation — a degree of nervous unction in 
action and in speech— an unquiet excitability of manner 
which appeared to me at all times unaccountable, and upon 
some occasions even filled me with alarm. Frequently 
too, pausing in the middle of a sentence whose commence- 
ment he had apparently forgotten, he seemed to be listen- 
ing in the deepest attention as if either in momentary ex- 
pectation of a visitor, or to sounds which must have had 
existence in his imagination alone. 


It was during one of these reveries or pauses of ap- 
parent abstraction, that, in turning over a page of the 
poet and scholar Politian’s beautiful tragedy, “The Or- 
feo” (the ’first native Italian tragedy), which lay near me 
upon an ottoman, I discovered a passage underlined in 
pencil. It was a passage towards the end of the third 
act — a passage of the most heart-stirring excitement — a 
passage which, although tainted with impurity, no man shall 
read without a thrill of novel emotion — no woman with- 
out a sigh. The whole page was blotted with fresh tears; 
and upon the opposite interleaf were the following Eng- 
lish lines, written in a hand so very different from the 
peculiar characters of my acquaintance, that I had some 
difficulty in recognizing it as his own: 

Thou wast that all to me, love, 

For which my soul did pine — 

A green isle in the sea, love, 

A fountain and a shrine, 

All wreathed with fairy fruits and flowers; 

And all the flowers were mine. 

Ah, dream too bright to last! 

Ah, starry Hope, that didst arise 
But to be overcast! 

A voice from out the Future cries, 

“Onward!” — but o’er the past 

(Dim gulf!) my spirit hovering lies, 

Mute — motionless — aghast ! 

For alas ! alas ! with me 
The light of life is o’er. 

“No more — no more — no more” 

(Such language holds the solemn sea 
To the sands upon the shore) 

Shall bloom the thunder-blasted tree, 

Or the stricken eagle soar ! 



Now all my hours are trances; 

And all my nightly dreams 
Are where thy dark eye glances, 

And where thy footstep gleams— 

In what ethereal dances — 

By what Italian streams! 

Alas ! for that accursed time 
They bore thee o’er the billow, 

From Love to titled age and crime. 

And an unholy pillow! — 

From me, and from our misty clime, 

Where weeps the silver willow! 

That these lines were written in English — a language 
with which I had not believed their author acquainted — 
afforded me little matter for surprise. I was too well 
aware of the extent of his acquirements, and of the singu- 
lar pleasure he took in concealing them from observa- 
tion, to be astonished at any similar discovery; but the 
place of date I must confess occasioned me no little 
amazement. It had been originally written in London , 
and afterwards carefully overscored — not, however, so 
effectually as to conceal the word from a scrutinizing eye. 
I say this occasioned me no little amazement; for I well 
remember that, in a former conversation with my friend, 
I particularly inquired if he had at any time met in Lon- 
don the Marchesa di Mentoni (who for some years pre- 
vious to her marriage had resided in that city), when his 
answer, if I mistake not, gave me to understand that he 
had never visited the metropolis of Great Britain. I 
might as well here mention that I have more than once 
heard (without, of course, giving credit to a report in- 
volving so many improbabilities) that the person of 
whom I speak was, not only by birth, but in education, 
an Englishman . 

% * * * * * 

“There is one painting,” said he, without being aware 


of my notice of the tragedy — “there is still one painting 
which you have not seen.” And throwing aside a drapery, 
he discovered a full-length portrait of the Marchesa 

Human art could have done no more in the delineation 
of her superhuman beauty. The same ethereal figure 
which stood before me the preceding night upon the steps 
of the Ducal Palace stood before me once again. But 
in the expression of the countenance, which was beaming 
all over with smiles, there still lurked (incomprehensible 
anomaly!) that fitful stain of melancholy which will ever 
be found inseparable from the perfection of the beautiful. 
Her right arm lay folded over her bosom. With her left 
she pointed downward to a curiously fashioned vase. 
One small, fairy foot, alone visible, barely touched the 
earth ; and, scarcely discernible in the brilliant atmosphere 
which seemed to encircle and enshrine her loveliness, 
floated a pair of the most delicately imagined wings. My 
glance fell from the painting to the figure of my friend, 
the vigorous words of Chapman’s Bussy D’Ambois quiv- 
ered instinctively upon my lips : 

“He is up 

There like a Roman statue! He will stand 

’Till Death hath made him marble!” 

“Come,” he said at length, turning towards a table of 
richly enameled and massive silver, upon which were a 
few goblets fantastically stained, together with two large 
Etruscan vases, fashioned in the same extraordinary 
model as that in the foreground of the portrait, and filled 
with what I supposed to be Johannisberger. “Come,” he 
said abruptly, “let us drink ! It is early — but let us drink. 
It is indeed early,” he continued, musingly, as a cherub 
with a heavy golden hammer made the apartment ring 
with the first hour after sunrise — “it is indeed early, but 
what matters it ? let us drink ! Let us pour out an offering 



to yon solemn sun which these gaudy lamps and censers 
are so eager to subdue!” And, having made me pledge 
him in a bumper, he swallowed in rapid succession several 
goblets of the wine. 

“To dream,” he continued, resuming the tone of his 
desultory conversation, as he held up to the rich light of 
a censer one of the magnificent vases — “to dream has been 
the business of my life. I have therefore framed for 
myself, as you see, a bower of dreams. In the heart of 
Venice could I have erected a better? You behold around 
you, it is true, a medley of architectural embellishments. 
The chastity of Ionia is offended by antediluvian devices, 
and the sphynxes of Egypt are outstretched upon car- 
pets of gold. Yet the effect is incongruous to the timid 
alone. Proprieties of place, and especially of time, are 
the bugbears which terrify mankind from the contempla- 
tion of the magnificent. Once I was myself a decorist; 
but that sublimation of folly has palled upon my soul. 
All this is now the fitter for my purpose. Like these 
arabesque censers, my spirit is writhing in fire, and the 
delirium of this scene is fashioning me for the wilder 
visions of that land of real dreams whither I am now 
rapidly departing.” He here paused abruptly, bent his 
head to his bosom, and seemed to listen to a sound which 
I could not hear. At length, erecting his frame, he looked 
upwards, and ejaculated the lines of the Bishop of Chi- 
chester : 

“ Stay for me there! I will not fail 
To meet thee in that hollow vale ” 

In the next instant, confessing the power of the wine, he 
threw himself at full length upon an ottoman. 

A quick step was now heard upon the staircase, and a 
loud knock at the door rapidly succeeded. I was hasten- 
ing to anticipate a second disturbance, when a page of 
Mentoni’s household burst into the room, and faltered 


out, in a voice choking with emotion, the incoherent 
words, “My mistress ! — my mistress ! — Poisoned ! — pois- 
oned ! Oh, beautiful — oh, beautiful Aphrodite !” 

Bewildered, I flew to the ottoman, and endeavored to 
arouse the sleeper to a sense of the startling intelligence. 
But his limbs were rigid, his lips were livid, his lately 
beaming eyes were riveted in death . I staggered back 
towards the table, my hand fell upon a cracked and black- 
ened goblet, and a consciousness of the entire and terrible 
truth flashed suddenly over my soul. 


True! nervous, very, very dreadfully nervous I had 
been and am ; but why will you say that I am mad ? The 
disease had sharpened my senses, not destroyed, not dulled 
them. Above all was the sense of hearing acute. I heard 
all things in the heaven and in the earth. I heard many 
things in hell. How then am I mad? Hearken! and ob- 
serve how healthily, how calmly I can tell you the whole 

It is impossible to say how first the idea entered my 
brain, but, once conceived, it haunted me day and night. 
Object there was none. Passion there was none. I loved 
the old man. He had never wronged me. He had never 
given me insult. For his gold I had no desire. I think 
it was his eye! Yes, it was this! One of his eyes re- 
sembled that of a vulture — a pale blue eye with a film 
over it. Whenever it fell upon me my blood ran cold, 
and so by degrees, very gradually, I made up my mind to 
take the life of the old man, and thus rid myself of the 
eye forever. 

Now this is the point. You fancy me mad. Madmen 



know nothing. But you should have seen me. You 
should have seen how wisely I proceeded ; with what cau- 
tion, with what foresight, with what dissimulation, I went 
to work ! I was never kinder to the old man than during 
the whole week before I killed him. And every night 
about midnight I turned the latch of his door and opened 
it — oh, so gently ! And then when I had made an open- 
ing sufficient for my head I put in a dark lantern all 
closed, closed so that no light shone out, and then 
I thrust in my head. Oh, you would have laughed to see 
how cunningly I thrust it in! I moved it slowly, very, 
very slowly, so that I might not disturb the old man's 
sleep. It took me an hour to place my whole head within 
the opening so far that I could see him as he lay upon 
his bed. Ha ! would a madman have been so wise as this ? 
And then when my head was well in the room I undid the 
lantern cautiously — oh, so cautiously — cautiously (for the 
hinges creaked), I undid it just so much that a single thin 
ray fell upon the vulture eye. And this I did for seven 
long nights, every night just at midnight, but I found 
the eye always closed, and so it was impossible to do the 
work, for it was not the old man who vexed me, but his 
Evil Eye. And every morning, when the day broke, I 
went boldly into the chamber and spoke courageously to 
him, calling him by name in a hearty ‘tone, and inquiring 
how he had passed the night. So you see he would have 
been a very profound old man, indeed, to suspect that 
every night, just at twelve, I looked in upon him while he 

Upon the eighth night I was more than usually cautious 
in opening the door. A watch’s minute hand moves more 
quickly than did mine. Never before that night had I felt 
the extent of my own powers, of my sagacity. I could 
scarcely contain my feelings of triumph. To think that 
there I was opening the door little by little, and he not 
even to dream of my secret deeds or thoughts. I fairly 


chuckled at the idea, and perhaps he heard me, for he 
moved on the bed suddenly as if startled. Now you may 
think that I drew back — hut no. His room was as black 
as pitch with the thick darkness (for the shutters were 
close fastened through fear of robbers), and so I knew 
that he could not see the opening of the door, and I kept 
pushing it on steadily, steadily. 

I had my head in, and was about to open the lantern 
when my thumb slipped upon the tin fastening, and the 
old man sprang up in the bed, crying out, “Who's there ?" 

I kept quite still and said nothing. For a whole hour 
I did not move a muscle, and in the meantime I did not 
hear him lie down. He was still sitting up in the bed, 
listening; just as I have done night after night hearken- 
ing to the death watches in the wall. 

Presently I heard a slight groan, and I knew it was 
the groan of mortal terror. It was not a groan of pain or 
of grief — oh, no ! it was the low stifled sound that arises 
from the bottom of the soul when overcharged with awe. 
I knew the sound well. Many a night, just at midnight, 
when all the world slept, it has welled up from my own 
bosom, deepening, with its dreadful echo, the terrors that 
distracted me. I say I knew it well. I knew what the 
old man felt, and pitied him, although I chuckled at heart. 
I knew that he had been lying awake ever since the first 
slight noise when he had turned in the bed. His fears 
had been ever since growing upon him. He had been 
trying to fancy them causeless, but could not. He had 
been saying to himself, “It is nothing but the wind in 
the chimney, it is only a mouse crossing the floor," or 
“It is merely a cricket which has made a single chirp." 
Yes, he has been trying to comfort himself with these 
suppositions ; but he had found all in vain. All in vain , 
because Death in approaching him had stalked with his 
black shadow before him and enveloped the victim. And 
it was the mournful influence of the unperceived shadow 



that caused him to feel, although he neither saw nor 
heard, to feel the presence of my head within the room. 

When I had waited a long time very patiently without 
hearing him lie down, I resolved to open a little — a very, 
very little crevice in the lantern. So I opened it — you 
cannot imagine how stealthily — until at length a single 
dim ray like the thread of the spider shot out from the 
crevice and fell upon the vulture eye. 

It was open, wide, wide open, and I grew furious as I 
gazed upon it. I saw it with perfect distinctness— all a 
dull blue with a hideous veil over it that chilled the very 
marrow in my bones, but I could see nothing else of the 
old man’s face or person, for I had directed the ray as if 
by instinct precisely upon the damned spot. 

And now have I not told you that what you mistake for 
madness is but over-acuteness of the senses? now, I say, 
there came to my ears a low, dull, quick sound, such as a 
watch makes when enveloped in cotton. I knew that 
sound well, too. It was the beating of the old man’s 
heart. It increased my fury, as the beating of a drum 
stimulates the soldier into courage. 

But even yet I refrained and kept still. I scarcely 
breathed. I held the lantern motionless. I tried how 
steadily I could maintain the ray upon the eye. Meantime 
the hellish tattoo of the heart increased. It grew quicker 
and quicker, and louder and louder, every instant. The 
old man’s terror must have been extreme ! It grew louder, 
I say, louder every moment ! — do you mark me well ? I 
have told you that I am nervous : so I am. And now at 
the dead hour of the night, amid the dreadful silence of 
that old house, so strange a noise as this excited me to un- 
controllable terror. Yet, for some minutes longer I re- 
frained and stood still. But the beating grew louder, 
louder, louder ! I thought the heart must burst. And 
now a new anxiety seized me — the sound would be heard 
by a neighbor! The old man’s hour had come! With a 


loud yell, I threw open the lantern and leaped into the 
room. He shrieked once — once only. In an instant I 
dragged him to the floor, and pulled the heavy bed over 
him. I then smiled gaily, to find the deed so far done. 
But for many minutes the heart beat on with a muffled 
sound. This, however, did not vex me; it would not be 
heard through the wall. At length it ceased. The old 
man was dead. I removed the bed and examined the 
corpse. Yes, he was stone, stone dead. I placed my 
hand upon the heart and held it there many minutes. 
There was no pulsation. He was stone dead. His eye 
would trouble me no more. 

If still you think me mad, you will think so no longer 
when I describe the wise precautions I took for the con- 
cealment of the body. The night waned, and I worked 
hastily, but in silence. 

I took up three planks from the flooring of the cham- 
ber, and deposited all between the scantlings. I then re- 
placed the boards so cleverly, so cunningly, that no human 
eye — not even his — could have detected anything wrong. 
There was nothing to wash out — no stain of any kind — no 
bloodspot whatever. I had been too wary for that. 

When I had made an end of these labors, it was four 
o’clock — still dark as midnight. As the bell sounded the 
hour, there came a knocking at the street door. I went 
down to open it with a light heart — for what had I now 
to fear? There entered three men, who introduced them- 

. i 

selves, with perfect suavity, as officers of the police. A 
shriek had been heard by a neighbor during the night; 
suspicion of foul play had been aroused; information had 
been lodged at the police office, and they (the officers) had 
been deputed to search the premises. 

I smiled — for what had I to fear? I bade the gentle- 
men welcome. The shriek, I said, was my own in a dream. 
The old man, I mentioned, was absent in the country. I 
took my visitors all over the house. I bade them search 



— search well . I led them, at length, to his chamber. I 
showed them his treasures, secure, undisturbed. In the 
enthusiasm of my confidence, I brought chairs into the 
room, and desired them here to rest from their fatigues, 
while I myself, in the wild audacity of my perfect 
triumph, placed my own seat upon the very spot beneath 
which reposed the corpse of the victim. 

The officers were satisfied. My manner had convinced 
them. I was singularly at ease. They sat, and while I 
answered cheerily, they chatted of familiar things. But, 
ere long, I felt myself getting pale and wished them gone. 
My head ached, and I fancied a ringing in my ears; but 
still they sat, and still chatted. The ringing became more 
distinct ; — it continued and became more distinct. I talked 
more freely to get rid of the feeling, but it continued and 
gained definitiveness — until at length, I found that the 
noise was not within my ears. 

No doubt I now grew very pale; but I talked more 
fluently and with a heightened voice. Yet the sound in- 
creased — and what could I do ? It was a low, dull, quick 
sound — much such a sound as a watch makes when en- 
veloped in cotton. I gasped for breath — and yet the offi- 
cers heard it not. I talked more quickly — more vehe- 
mently; but the noise steadily increased. I arose and 
argued about trifles, in a high key and with violent gesti- 
culations; but the noise steadily increased. Why would 
.they not be gone? I paced the floor to and fro with 
heavy strides, as if excited to fury by the observations of 
the men — but the noise steadily increased. O God ! what 
could I do ? I foamed — I raved — I swore ! I swung the 
chair upon which I had been sitting, and grated it upon 
the boards, but the noise arose over all and continually 
increased. It grew louder — louder — louder! And still 
the men chatted pleasantly, and smiled. Was it possible 
they heard not ? Almighty God ! — no, no ! They heard ! 
— they suspected! — they knew ! — they were making a 


mockery of my horror ! — this I thought, and this I think. 
But anything was better than this agony ! Anything was 
more tolerable than this derision! I could bear those 
hypocritical smiles no longer! I felt that I must scream 
or die ! — and now — again ! — hark ! louder ! louder ! louder ! 

“Villains!” I shrieked, “dissemble no more! I admit 
the deed ! — tear up the planks ! — here, here ! — it is the 
beating of his hideous heart!” 


From his cradle to his grave a gale of prosperity bore 
my friend Ellison along. Nor do I use the word pros- 
perity in its mere worldly sense. I mean it as synonymous 
with happiness. The person of whom I speak seemed 
born for the purpose of foreshadowing the doctrines of 
Turgot, Price, Priestley, and Condorcet — of exemplifying 
by individual instance what has been deemed the chimera 
of the perfectionists. In the brief existence of Ellison I 
fancy that I have seen refuted the dogma, that in man’s 
very nature lies some hidden principle, the antagonist of 
bliss. An anxious examination of his career has given 
me to understand that in general, from the violation of 
a few simple laws of humanity arises the wretchedness 
of mankind — that as a species we have in our possession 
the as yet unwrought elements of content — and that, even 
now, in the present darkness and madness of all thought 
on the great question of the social condition, it is not im- 
possible that man, the individual, under certain unusual 
and highly fortuitous conditions, may be happy. 

With opinions such as these my young friend, too, was 
fully imbued; and thus it is worthy of observation that 
the uninterrupted enjoyment which distinguished his life 



was, in great measure, the result of preconcert. It is in- 
deed evident, that with less of the instinctive philosophy, 
which now and then stands so well in the stead of experi- 
ence, Mr. Ellison would have found himself precipitated 
by the very extraordinary success of his life into the 
i common vortex of unhappiness which yawns for those of 
pre-eminent endowments. But it is by no means my ob- 
ject to pen an essay on happiness. The ideas of my friend 
may be summed up in a few words. He admitted but 
four elementary principles, or, more strictly, conditions of 
bliss. That which he considered chief was (strange to 
say!) the simple and purely physical one of free exercise 
in the open air. “The health/’ he said, “attainable by 
other means is scarcely worth the name.” He instanced 
the ecstasies of the fox-hunter, and pointed to the tillers 
of the earth, the only people who, as a class, can be fairly 
considered happier than others. His second condition 
was the love of woman. His third, and most difficult of 
realization, was the contempt of ambition. His fourth 
was an object of unceasing pursuit; and he held that, 
other things being equal, the extent of attainable happi- 
ness was in proportion to the spirituality of this object. 

Ellison was remarkable in the continuous profusion of 
good gifts lavished upon him by fortune. In personal 
grace and beauty he exceeded all men. His intellect was 
of that order to which the acquisition of knowledge is less 
a labor than an intuition and a necessity. His family was 
one of the most illustrious of the empire. His bride was 
the loveliest and most devoted of women. His posses- 
sions had been always ample; but, on the attainment of 
his majority, it was discovered that one of those extraor- 
dinary freaks of fate had been played in his behalf which 
startled the whole social world amid which they occur, 
and seldom fail radically to alter the moral constitution 
of those who are their objects. 

It appears that, about a hundred years before Mr. Elli- 


son's coming of age, there had died, in a remote province, 
one Mr. Seabright Ellison. This gentleman had amassed 
a princely fortune, and, having no immediate connections, 
conceived the whim of suffering his wealth to accumulate 
for a century after his decease. Minutely and sagaciously 
directing the various modes of investment, he bequeathed 
the aggregate amount to the nearest of blood bearing the 
name Ellison, who should be alive at the end of the hun- 
dred years. Many attempts had been made to set aside 
this singular bequest; their ex post facto character ren- 
dered them abortive; but the attention of a jealous gov- 
ernment was aroused, and a legislative act finally obtained, 
forbidding all similar accumulations. This act, however, 
did not prevent young Ellison from entering into posses- 
sion, on his twenty-first birthday, as the heir of his an- 
cestor Seabright, of a fortune of four hundred and fifty 
millions of dollars . 

When it had become known that such was the enormous 
wealth inherited, there were, of course, many speculations 
as to the mode of its disposal. The magnitude and the 
immediate availability of the sum bewildered all who 
thought on the topic. The possessor of any appreciable 
amount of money might have been imagined to perform 
any one of a thousand things. With riches merely sur- 
passing those of any citizen, it would have been easy to 
suppose him engaging to supreme excess in the fashion- 
able extravagances of his time — or busying himself with 
political intrigue — or aiming at ministerial power — or pur- 
chasing increase of nobility — or collecting large museums 
of virtu — or playing the munificent patron of letters, of 
science, of art — or endowing and bestowing his name 
upon extensive institutions of charity. But for the in- 
conceivable wealth in the actual possession of the heir, 
these objects and all ordinary objects were felt to afford 
too limited a field. Recourse was had to figures, and these 
but sufficed to confound. It was seen that, even at three 



per cent., the annual income of the inheritance amounted 
to no less than thirteen millions and five hundred thou- 
sand dollars; which was one million and one hundred 
and twenty-five thousand per month ; or thirty-six thousand 
nine hundred and eighty-six per day ; or one thousand five 
hundred and forty-one per hour; or six-and-twenty dol- 
lars for every minute that flew. Thus the usual track of 
supposition was thoroughly broken up. Men knew not 
what to imagine. There were some who even conceived 
that Mr. Ellison would divest himself of at least one- 
half of his fortune, as of utterly superfluous opulence — 
enriching whole troops of his relatives by division of his 
superabundance. To the nearest of these he did, in fact, 
abandon the very unusual wealth which was his own be- 
fore the inheritance. 

I was not surprised, however, to perceive that he had 
long made up his mind on a point which had occasioned 
so much discussion to his friends. Nor was I greatly as- 
tonished at the nature of his decision. In regard to in- 
dividual charities he had satisfied his conscience. In the 
possibility of any improvement, properly so called, being 
effected by man himself in the general condition of man, 
he had (I am sorry to confess it) little faith. Upon the 
whole, whether happily or unhappily, he was thrown 
back, in very great measure, upon self. 

In the widest and noblest sense he was a poet. He com- 
prehended, moreover, the true character, the august aims, 
the supreme majesty and dignity of the poetic sentiment. 
The fullest, if not the sole proper satisfaction of this 
sentiment he instinctively felt to lie in the creation of 
novel forms of beauty. Some peculiarities, either in his 
early education or in the nature of his intellect, had 
tinged with what is termed materialism all his ethical 
speculations ; and it was this bias, perhaps, which led him 
to believe that the most advantageous at least, if not the 
sole legitimate field for the poetic exercise, lies in the 


creation of novel moods of purely physical loveliness. 
Thus it happened he became neither musician nor poet — if 
we use this latter term in its every-day acceptation. Or it 
might have been that he neglected to become either, 
merely in pursuance of his idea that in contempt of am- 
bition is to be found one of the essential principles of 
happiness on earth. Is it not, indeed, possible that, while 
a high order of genius is necessarily ambitious, the high- 
est is above that which is termed ambition? And may it 
not thus happen that many far greater than Milton have 
contentedly remained “mute and inglorious” ? I believe 
that the world has never seen — and that, unless through 
some series of accidents goading the noblest order of 
mind into distasteful exertion, the world will never see 
— that full extent of triumphant execution, in the richer 
domains of art, of which the human nature is absolutely 

Ellison became neither musician nor poet ; although no 
man lived more profoundly enamored of music and 
poetry. Under other circumstances than those which in- 
vested him, it is not impossible that he would have become 
a painter. Sculpture, although in its nature rigorously 
poetical, was too limited in its extent and consequences 
to have occupied, at any time, much of his attention. And 
I have now mentioned all the provinces in which the com- 
mon understanding of the poetic sentiment has declared it 
capable of expatiating. But Ellison maintained that the 
richest, the truest, and most natural, if not altogether 
the most extensive province, had been unaccountably neg- 
lected. No definition had spoken of the landscape- 
gardener as of the poet; yet it seemed to my friend that 
the creation of the landscape-garden offered to the proper 
Muse the most magnificent of opportunities. Here, in- 
deed, was the fairest field for the display of imagination 
in the endless combining of forms of novel beauty; the 
elements to enter into combination being, by a vast supe- 



riority, the most glorious which the earth could afford. 
In the multiform and multicolor of the flower and the 
tree, he recognized the most direct and energetic efforts 
of Nature at physical loveliness. And in the direction or 
concentration of this effort — or, more properly, in its 
adaptation to the eyes which were to behold it on earth — 
he perceived that he should be employing the best means 
— laboring to the greatest advantage — in the fulfilment, not 
only of his own destiny as poet, but of the august pur- 
poses for which the Deity had implanted the poetic senti- 
ment in man. 

"Its adaptation to the eyes which were to behold it on 
earth.” In his explanation of this phraseology, Mr. Elli- 
son did much towards solving what has always seemed 
to me an enigma — I mean the fact (which none but the 
ignorant dispute) that no such combination of scenery 
exists in nature as the painter of genius may produce. No 
such paradises are to be found in reality as have glowed 
on the canvas of Claude. In the most enchanting of nat- 
ural landscapes there will always be found a defect or an 
excess — many excesses and defects. While the component 
parts may defy, individually, the highest skill of the artist, 
the arrangement of these parts will always be susceptible 
of improvement. In short, no position can be attained on 
the wide surface of the natural earth, from which an 
artistical eye, looking steadily, will not find matter of 
offense in what is termed the "composition” of the land- 
scape. And yet how unintelligible is this ! In all other 
matters we are justly instructed to regard nature as 
supreme. With her details we shrink from competition. 
Who shall presume to imitate the colors of the tulip, or 
to improve the proportions of the lily-o f -the- valley ? The 
! criticism which says, of sculpture or portraiture, that here 
nature is to be exalted or idealized rather than imitated, 
is in error. No pictorial or sculptural combinations of 
points of human loveliness do more than approach the 


living and breathing beauty. In landscape alone is the 
principle of the critic true ; and having felt its truth here, 
it is but the headlong spirit of generalization which has 
led him to pronounce it true throughout all the domains of 
art. Having, I say, felt its truth here ; for the feeling is 
no affectation or chimera. The mathematics afford no 
more absolute demonstrations than the sentiment of his 
art yields the artist. He not only believes, but positively 
knows, that such and such apparently arbitrary arrange- 
ments of matter constitute, and alone constitute, the true 
beauty. His reasons, however, have not yet been matured 
into expression. It remains for a more profound analysis 
than the world has yet seen, fully to investigate and ex- 
press them. Nevertheless he is confirmed in his instinc- 
tive opinions by the voice of all his brethren. Let a “com- 
position” be defective; let an emendation be wrought in 
its mere arrangement of form; let this emendation be 
submitted to every artist in the world; by each will its 
necessity be admitted. And even far more than this: in 
remedy of the defective composition each insulated mem- 
ber of the fraternity would have suggested the identical 

I repeat that in landscape arrangements alone is the 
physical nature susceptible of exaltation, and that there- 
fore her susceptibility of improvement at this one point 
was a mystery I had been unable to solve. My own 
thoughts on the subject had rested in the idea that the 
primitive intention of nature would have so arranged the 
earth’s surface as to have fulfilled at all points man’s 
sense of perfection in the beautiful, the sublime, or the 
picturesque; but that this primitive intention had been 
frustrated by the known geological disturbances — disturb- 
ances of form and color-grouping, in the correction or al- 
laying of which lies the soul of art. The force of this 
idea was much weakened, however, by the necessity which 
it involved of considering the disturbances abnormal and 



unadapted to any purpose. It was Ellison who suggested 
that they were prognostic of death. He thus explained: 
Admit the earthly immortality of man to have been the 
first intention. We have then the primitive arrangement 
of the earth's surface adapted to his blissful estate, as not 
existent but designed. The disturbances were the prepara- 
tions for his subsequently conceived deathful condition. 

“Now,” said my friend, “what we regard as exalta- 
tion of the landscape may be really such, as respects only 
the moral or human point of view. Each alternation of 
the natural scenery may possibly effect a blemish in the 
picture, if we can suppose this picture viewed at large — in 
mass — from some point distant from the earth's surface, 
although not beyond the limits of its atmosphere. It is 
easily understood that what might improve a closely 
scrutinized detail, may at the same time injure a general 
or more distantly observed effect. There may be a class 
of beings, humans once, but now invisible to humanity, to 
whom, from afar, our disorder may seem order — our un- 
picturesqueness picturesque; in a word, the earth-angels, 
for whose scrutiny more especially than our own, and for 
whose death-refined appreciation of the beautiful, may 
have been set in array by God the wide landscape-gardens 
of the hemispheres.” 

In the course of discussion, my friend quoted some 
passages from a writer on landscape-gardening, who has 
been supposed to have well treated his theme : 

“There are properly but two styles of landscape-garden- 
ing, the natural and the artificial. One seeks to recall 
the original beauty of the country, by adapting its means 
to the surrounding scenery; cultivating trees in harmony 
with the hills or plain of the neighboring land ; detecting 
and bringing into practice those nice relations of size, pro- 
portion, and color which, hid from the common observer, 
are revealed everywhere to the experienced student of 
nature. The result of the natural style of gardening is 


seen rather in the absence of all defects and incongruities — 
in the prevalence of a healthy harmony and order — than 
in the creation of any special wonders or miracles. The 
artificial style has as many varieties as there are different 
tastes to gratify. It has a certain general relation to the 
various styles of building. There are the stately avenues 
and retirements of Versailles; Italian terraces; and a 
various mixed old English style, which bears some relation 
to the Domestic Gothic or English Elizabethan architec- 
ture. Whatever may be said against the abuses of the 
artificial landscape-gardening, a mixture of pure art in a 
garden scene adds to it a great beauty. This is partly 
pleasing to the eye, by the show of order and design, and 
partly moral. A terrace with an old moss-covered balus- 
trade calls up at once to the eye the fair forms that have 
passed there in other days. The slightest exhibition of art 
is an evidence of care and human interest.” 

“From what I have already observed/’ said Ellison, 
“you will understand that I reject the idea, here ex- 
pressed, of recalling the original beauty of the coun- 

The original beauty is never so great as that which may 
be introduced. Of course, everything depends on the selec- 
tion of a spot with capabilities. What is said about detect- 
ing and bringing into practice nice relations of size, 
proportion, and color, is one of those mere vaguenesses 
of speech which serve to veil inaccuracy of thought. The 
phrase quoted may mean anything, or nothing, and guides 
in no degree. That the true result of the natural style of 
gardening is seen rather in the absence of all defects and 
incongruities than in the creation of any special wonders 
or miracles, is a proposition better suited to the groveling 
apprehension of the herd than to the fervid dreams of the 
man of genius. The negative merit suggested appertains 
to that hobbling criticism which, in letters, would elevate 
Addison into apotheosis. In truth, while that virtue 



which consists in the mere avoidance of vice appeals di- 
rectly to the understanding, and can thus be circum- 
scribed in rule , the loftier virtue, which flames in creation, 
can be apprehended in its results alone. Rule applies but 
to the merits of denial — to the excellences which refrain. 
Beyond these, the critical art can but suggest. We may 
be instructed to build a ‘Cato/ but we are in vain told how 
to conceive a Parthenon or an "Inferno/ The thing done, 
however — the wonder accomplished — the capacity for ap- 
prehension becomes universal. The sophists of the nega- 
tive school who, through inability to create, have scoffed 
at creation, are now found the loudest in applause. What, 
in its chrysalis condition of principle, affronted their de- 
mure reason, never fails, in its maturity of accomplish- 
ment, to extort admiration from their instinct of 

""The author's observations on the artificial style," con- 
tinued Ellison, ""are less objectionable. A mixture of 
pure art in a garden scene adds to it a great beauty. This 
is just; as also is the reference to the sense of human in- 
terest. The principle expressed is incontrovertible — but 
there may be something beyond it. There may be an ob- 
ject in keeping with the principle — an object unattain- 
able by the means ordinarily possessed by individuals, yet 
which, if attained, would lend a charm to the landscape- 
garden far surpassing that which a sense of merely human 
interest could bestow. A poet, having very unusual pe- 
cuniary resources, might, while retaining the necessary 
idea of art, or culture, or, as our author expresses it, of 
interest, so imbue his designs at once wifh extent and 
novelty of beauty as to convey the sentiment of spiritual 
interference. It will be seen that, in bringing about such 
result, he secures all the advantages of interest or design , 
while relieving his work of the harshness or technicality 
of the worldly art . 

""In the most rugged of wildernesses — in the most savage 


of the scenes of pure nature — there is apparent the art of 
a creator ; yet this art is apparent to reflection only ; in no 
respect has it the obvious force of a feeling. Now let us 
suppose this sense of the Almighty design to be one step 
depressed — to be brought into something like harmony or 
consistency with the sense of human art — to form an in- 
termedium between the two: — let us imagine, for ex- 
ample, a landscape whose combined vastness and defini- 
tiveness — whose united beauty, magnificence, and strange- 
ness shall convey the idea of care, or culture, or superin- 
tendence, on the part of beings superior, yet akin to human- 
ity — then the sentiment of interest is preserved, while the 
art intervolved is made to assume the air of an inter- 
mediate or secondary nature — a nature which is not God, 
nor an emanation from God, but which still is nature in 
the sense of the handiwork of the angels that hover be- 
tween man and God.” 

It was in devoting his enormous wealth to the embodi- 
ment of a vision such as this, in the free exercise in the 
open air insured by the personal superintendence of his 
plans, in the unceasing object which these plans afforded, 
in the high spirituality of the object, in the contempt of 
ambition which it enabled him truly to feel, in the peren- 
nial springs with which it gratified, without possibility 
of satiating, that one master passion of his soul — the 
thirst for beauty; above all, it was in the sympathy of a 
woman, not unwomanly, whose loveliness and love en- 
veloped his existence in the purple atmosphere of Para- 
dise, that Ellison thought to find, and found , exemption 
from the ordinary cares of humanity, with a far greater 
amount of positive happiness than ever glowed in the 
rapt day-dreams of De Stael. 

I despair of conveying to the reader any distinct con- 
ception of the marvels which my friend did actually ac- 
complish. I wish to describe, but am disheartened by the 
difficulty of description, and hesitate between detail and 



generality. Perhaps the better course will be to unite the 
two in their extremes. 

Mr. Ellison's first step regarded, of course, the choice 
of a locality; and scarcely had he commenced thinking on 
this point when the luxuriant nature of the Pacific 
Islands arrested his attention. In fact, he had made up 
his mind for a voyage to the South Seas, when a night's 
reflection induced him to abandon the idea. “Were I 
| misanthropic," he said, “such a locale would suit me. The 
thoroughness of its insulation and seclusion, and the diffi- 
culty of ingress and egress would in such case be the 
charm of charms; but as yet I am not Timon. I wish 
the composure but not the depression of solitude. There 
must remain with me a certain control over the extent 
and duration of my repose. There will be frequent hours 
in which I shall need, too, the sympathy of the poetic in 
what I have done. Let me seek, then, a spot not far 
from a populous city — whose vicinity, also, will best en- 
able me to execute my plans." 

In search of a suitable place so situated Ellison traveled 
for several years, and I was permitted to accompany him. 
A thousand spots with which I was enraptured he re- 
jected without hesitation for reasons which satisfied me 
in the end that he was right. We came at length to an 
elevated table-land of wonderful fertility and beauty, af- 
fording a panoramic prospect very little less in extent than 
that of ^Etna, and, in Ellison's opinion as well as my own, 
surpassing the far-famed view from that mountain in all 
the true elements of the picturesque. 

“I am aware," said the traveler, as he drew a sigh of 
deep delight, after gazing on this scene, entranced, for 
nearly an hour — “I know that here, in my circumstances, 
nine-tenths of the most fastidious of men would rest con- 
tent. This panorama is indeed glorious, and I should re- 
joice in it but for the excess of its glory. The taste of all 
the architects I have ever known leads them, for the sake 


of ‘prospect/ to put up buildings on hilltops. The error is 
obvious. Grandeur in any of its moods, but especially in 
that of extent, startles, excites — and then fatigues, de- 
presses. For the occasional scene nothing can be better — 
for the constant view nothing worse. And, in the con- 
stant view, the most objectionable phase of grandeur is 
that of extent; the worst phase of extent that of dis- 
tance. It is at war with the sentiment and with the sense 
of seclusion — the sentiment and sense which we seek to 
humor in ‘retiring to the country/ In looking from the 
summit of a mountain we cannot help feeling abroad in 
the world. The heart-sick avoid distant prospects as a 

It was not until towards the close of the fourth year of 
our search that we found a locality with which Ellison 
professed himself satisfied. It is, of course, needless to 
say where was the locality. The late death of my friend, 
in causing his domain to be thrown open to certain classes 
of visitors, has given to Arnheim a species of secret and 
subdued if not solemn celebrity, similar in kind, although 
infinitely superior in degree, to that which so long dis- 
tinguished Fonthill. 

The usual approach to Arnheim was by the river. The 
visitor left the city in the early morning. During the fore- 
noon he passed between shores of a tranquil and domestic 
beauty, on which grazed innumerable sheep, their white 
fleeces spotting the vivid green of rolling meadows. By 
degrees the idea of cultivation subsided into that of merely 
pastoral care. This slowly became merged in a sense of 
retirement; this again, in a consciousness of solitude. As 
the evening approached the channel grew more narrow, 
the banks more and more precipitous; and these latter 
were clothed in richer, more profuse and more somber fo- 
liage. The water increased in transparency. The stream 
took a thousand turns, so that at no moment could its 
gleaming surface be seen for a greater distance than a 



furlong. At every instant the vessel seemed imprisoned 
within an enchanted circle, having insuperable and im- 
penetrable walls of foliage, a roof of ultra-marine satin, 
and no floor, the keel balancing itself with admirable 
nicety on that of a phantom bark which, by some accident 
having been turned upside down, floated in constant com- 
pany with the substantial one for the purpose of sus- 
taining it. The channel now became a gorge — although 
the term is somewhat inapplicable, and I employ it merely 
because the language has no word which better represents 
the most striking — not the most distinctive — feature of 
the scene. The character of the gorge was maintained only 
in the height and parallelism of the shores ; it was lost al- 
together in their other traits. The walls of the ravine 
(through which the clear water still tranquilly flowed) 
arose to an elevation of a hundred and occasionally of a 
hundred and fifty feet, and inclined so much towards each 
other as in a great measure to shut out the light of day, 
while the long, plume-like moss which depended densely 
from the intertwining shrubberies overhead gave the 
whole chasm an air of funereal gloom. The windings be- 
came more frequent and intricate, and seemed often as if 
returning in upon themselves, so that the voyager had 
long lost all idea of direction. He was, moreover, en- 
wrap t in an exquisite sense of the strange. The thought 
of nature still remained, but her character seemed to have 
undergone modification; there was a weird symmetry, a 
thrilling uniformity, a wizard propriety, in these her 
works. Not a dead branch — not a withered leaf — not a 
stray pebble — not a patch of the brown earth was any- 
where visible. The crystal water welled up against the 
clean granite or the unblemished moss with a sharpness of 
outline that delighted while it bewildered the eye. 

Having threaded the mazes of this channel for some 
hours, the gloom deepening every moment, a sharp and 
unexpected turn of the vessel brought it suddenly, as if 


dropped from heaven, into a circular basin of very con- 
siderable extent when compared with the width of the 
gorge. It was about two hundred yards in diameter, and 
girt in at all points but one, that immediately fronting 
the vessel as it entered, by hills equal in general height to 
the walls of the chasm, although of a thoroughly differ- 
ent character. Their sides sloped from the water’s edge 
at an angle of some forty-five degrees, and they were 
clothed from base to summit — not a perceptible point 
escaping — in a drapery of the most gorgeous flower blos- 
soms; scarcely a green leaf being visible among the sea 
of odorous and fluctuating color. This basin was of 
great depth, but so transparent was the water that the 
bottom, which seemed to consist of a thick mass of small 
round alabaster pebbles, was distinctly visible by glimpses, 
that is to say, whenever the eye could permit itself not to 
see far down in the inverted heaven the duplicate bloom- 
ing of the hills. On these latter there were no trees, nor 
even shrubs of any size. The impressions wrought on the 
observer were those of richness, warmth, color, quietude, 
uniformity, softness, delicacy, daintiness, voluptuousness, 
and a miraculous extremeness of culture that suggested 
dreams of a new race of fairies, laborious, tasteful, mag- 
nificent, and fastidious ; but as the eye traced upward the 
myriad-tinted slope, from its sharp junction with the 
water to its vague termination amid the folds of over- 
hanging cloud, it became indeed difficult not to fancy a 
panoramic cataract of rubies, sapphires, opals, and golden 
onyxes, rolling silently out of the sky. 

The visitor, shooting suddenly into this bay from out 
the gloom of the ravine, is delighted but astounded by the 
full orb of the declining sun, which he had supposed to be 
already far below the horizon, but which now confronts 
him and forms the sole terminatoin of an otherwise limit- 
less vista seen through another chasm-like rift in the hills. 

But here the voyager quits the vessel which has borne 



him so far, and descends into a light canoe of ivory, 
stained with arabesque devices in vivid scarlet, both within 
and without. The poop and beak of this boat arise high 
above the water with sharp points, so that the general 
form is that of an irregular crescent. It lies on the sur- 
face of the bay with the proud grace of a swan. On its 
ermined floor reposes a single feathery paddle of satin- 
wood; but no oarsman or attendant is to be seen. The 
guest is bidden to be of good cheer — that the fates will 
take care of him. The larger vessel disappears, and he 
is left alone in the canoe, which lies apparently motion- 
less in the middle of the lake. While he considers what 
course to pursue, however, he becomes aware of a gentle 
movement in the fairy bark. It slowly swings itself 
around until its prow points toward the sun. It advances 
with a gentle but gradually accelerated velocity, while the 
slight ripples it creates seem to break about the ivory sides 
in divinest melody — seem to offer the only possible ex- 
planation of the soothing yet melancholy music for whose 
unseen origin the bewildered voyager looks around him 
in vain. 

The canoe steadily proceeds, and the rocky gate of the 
vista is approached, so that its depths can be more dis- 
tinctly seen. To the right arise a chain of lofty hills 
rudely and luxuriantly wooded. It is observed, however, 
that the trait of exquisite cleanness where the bank dips 
into the water still prevails. There is not one token of 
the usual river debris . To the left the character of the 
scene is softer and more obviously artificial. Here the 
bank slopes upward from the stream in a very gentle 
ascent, forming a broad sward of grass, of a texture re- 

i sembling nothing so much as velvet, and of a brilliancy 
of green which would bear comparison with the tint of the 
purest emerald. This plateau varies in width from ten to 
three hundred yards; reaching from the river bank to a 
wall, fifty feet high, which extends in an infinity of curves, 


but following the general direction of the river until lost 
in the distance to the westward. This wall is of one con- 
tinuous rock, and has been formed by cutting perpen- 
dicularly the once rugged precipice of the stream’s south- 
ern bank; but no trace of the labor has been suffered to 
remain. The chiseled stone has the hue of ages, and is 
profusely overhung and overspread with the ivy, the coral 
honey-suckle, the eglantine, and the clematis. The uni- 
formity of the top and bottom lines of the wall is fully 
relieved by occasional trees of gigantic height, growing 
singly or in small groups, both along the plateau and in 
the domain behind the wall, but in close proximity to it ; so 
that frequent limbs (of the black walnut especially) reach 
over and dip their pendent extremities into the water. 
Farther back within the domain the vision is impeded by 
an impenetrable screen of foliage. 

These things are observed during the canoe’s gradual 
approach to what I have called the gate of the vista. On 
drawing nearer to this, however, its chasm-like appear- 
ance vanishes ; a new outlet from the bay is discovered to 
the left, in which direction the wall is also seen to sweep, 
still following the general course of the stream. Down 
this new opening the eye cannot penetrate very far; for 
the stream, accompanied by the wall, still bends to the 
left until both are swallowed up by the leaves. 

The boat, nevertheless, glides magically into the wind- 
ing channel ; and here the shore opposite the wall is found 
to resemble that opposite the wall in the straight vista. 
Lofty hills, rising occasionally into mountains, and cov- 
ered with vegetation in wild luxuriance, still shut in the 

Floating gently onward, but with a velocity slightly 
augmented, the voyager, after many short turns, finds 
his progress apparently barred by a gigantic gate or rather 
door of burnished gold, elaborately carved and fretted, 
and reflecting the direct rays of the now fast sinking sun 



with an effulgence that seems to wreath the whole sur- 
rounding forest in flames. This gate is inserted in the 
lofty wall, which here appears to cross the river at right 
angles. In a few moments, however, it is seen that the 
main body of the water still sweeps in a gentle and ex- 
tensive curve to the left, the wall following it as before, 
while a stream of considerable volume, diverging from the 
principal one, makes its way with a slight ripple, under 
the door, and is thus hidden from sight. The canoe falls 
into the lesser channel and approaches the gate. Its pon- 
derous wings are slowly and musically expanded. The 
boat glides between them, and commences a rapid descent 
into a vast amphitheater entirely begirt with purple moun- 
tains, whose bases are laved by a gleaming river through- 
out the full extent of their circuit. Meantime the whole 
Paradise of Arnheim bursts upon the view. There is a 
gush of entrancing melody; there is an oppressive sense 
of strange, sweet odor ; there is a dream-like intermingling 
to the eye of tall, slender Eastern trees, bosky shrubberies, 
flocks of golden and crimson birds, lily-fringed lakes, 
meadows of violets, tulips, poppies, hyacinths, and tube- 
roses, long intertangled lines of silver streamlets, and, 
upspringing confusedly from amid all, a mass of semi- 
Gothic, semi-Saracenic architecture, sustaining itself as if 
by miracle in mid-air, glittering in the red sunlight with 
a hundred oriels, minarets, and pinnacles, and seeming 
the phantom handiwork conjointly of the Sylphs, of the 
Fairies, of the Genii, and of the Gnomes. 



Puring a pedestrian tour last summer through one or 
two of the river counties of New York, I found myself 
as the day declined somewhat embarrassed about the road I 


was pursuing. The land undulated very remarkably ; and 
my path for the last hour had wound about and about so 
confusedly in its effort to keep in the valleys, that I no 
longer knew in what direction lay the sweet village of 

B , where I had determined to stop for the night. 

The sun had scarcely shone , strictly speaking, during the 
day, which nevertheless had been unpleasantly warm. A 
smoky mist, resembling that of the Indian summer, en- 
veloped all things, and, of course, added to my uncer- 
tainty. Not that I cared much about the matter. If I did 
not hit upon the village before sunset, or even before 
dark, it was more than possible that a little Dutch farm- 
house, or something of that kind, would soon make its 
appearance, although, in fact, the neighborhood (perhaps 
on account of being more picturesque than fertile) was 
very sparsely inhabited. At all events, with my knapsack 
for a pillow, and my hound for a sentry, a bivouac in the 
open air was just the thing which would have amused me. 
I sauntered on, therefore, quite at ease, Ponto taking 
charge of my gun, until at length, just as I had begun 
to consider whether the numerous little glades that led 
hither and thither were intended to be paths at all, I was 
conducted by one of the most promising of them into an 
unquestionable carriage track. There could be no mis- 
taking it. The traces of light wheels were evident; and 
although the tall shrubberies and overgrown undergrowth 
met overhead, there was no obstruction whatever below, 
even to the passage of a Virginian mountain wagon, the 
most aspiring vehicle, I take it, of its kind. The road, 
however, except in being open through the wood, if wood 
be not too weighty a name for such an assemblage of light 
trees, and except in the particulars of evident wheel- 
tracks, bore no resemblance to any road I had before seen. 
The tracks of which I speak were but faintly perceptible, 
having been impressed upon the firm yet pleasantly moist 
surface of what looked more like green Genoese velvet 



than anything else. It was grass, clearly, but grass such 
as we seldom see out of England, so short, so thick, so 
even, and so vivid in color. Not a single impediment lay 
in the wheel-rut, not even a chip or a dead twig. The 
stones that once obstructed the way had been carefully 
placed , not thrown, along the sides of the lane, so as to 
define its boundaries at bottom with a kind of half -pre- 
cise, half -negligent, and wholly picturesque definition. 
Clumps of wild flowers grew everywhere luxuriantly in 
the interspaces. 

What to make of all this, of course I knew not. Here 
was art undoubtedly — that did not surprise me ; all roads, 
in the ordinary sense, are works of art; nor can I say 
there was much to wonder at in the mere excess of art 
manifested; all that seemed to have been done, might 
have been done here, with such natural “capabilities” (as 
they have it in the books on Landscape Gardening), with 
very little labor and expense. No, it was not the amount 
but the character of the art which caused me to take a seat 
on one of the blossomy stones and gaze up and down this 
fairylike avenue for half an hour or more in bewildered 
admiration. One thing became more and more evident 
the longer I gazed : an artist, and one with a most scrupu- 
lous eye for form, had superintended all these arrange- 
ments. The greatest care had been taken to preserve a 
due medium between the neat and graceful on the one 
hand, and the pittoresque, in the true sense of the Italian 
term, on the other. There were few straight, and no long, 
uninterrupted lines. The same effect of curvature or of 
color appeared twice usually, but not oftener, at any one 
point of view. Everywhere was variety in uniformity. 
It was a piece of “composition,” in which the most fas- 
tidiously critical taste could scarcely have suggested an 

I had turned to the right as I entered this road, and 
now, arising, I continued in the same direction. The path 


was so serpentine that at no moment could I trace its 
course for more than two or three paces in advance. Its 
character did not undergo any material change. 

Presently the murmur of water fell gently upon my ear, 
and in a few moments afterwards, as I turned with the 
road somewhat more abruptly than hitherto, I became 
aware that a building of some kind lay at the foot of a 
gentle declivity just before me. I could see nothing dis- 
tinctly on account of the mist which occupied all the little 
valley below. A gentle breeze, however, now arose, as the 
sun was about descending ; and while I remained standing 
on the brow of the slope, the fog gradually became dissi- 
pated into wreaths, and so it floated over the scene. 

As it came fully into view, thus gradually as I describe 
it, piece by piece, here a tree, there a glimpse of water, 
and here again the summit of a chimney, I could scarcely 
help fancying that the whole was one of the ingenius illu- 
sions sometimes exhibited under the name of “vanishing 
pictures. ,, 

By the time, however, that the fog had thoroughly dis- 
appeared, the sun had made its way down behind the 
gentle hills, and thence, as if with a slight chassez to the 
south, had come again fully into sight, glaring with a 
purplish luster through a chasm that entered the valley 
from the west. Suddenly, therefore, and as if by the 
hand of magic, this whole valley and everything in it be- 
came brilliantly visible. 

The first coup d’ ceil, as the sun slid into the position de- 
scribed, impressed me very much as I have been impressed 
when a boy by the concluding scene of some well-ar- 
ranged theatrical spectacle or melodrama. Not even the 
monstrosity of color was wanting, for the sunlight came 
out through the chasm, tinted all orange and purple; 
while the vivid green of the grass in the valley was re- 
flected more or less upon all objects, from the curtain of 
vapor that still hung overhead, as if loath to take its 



total departure from a scene so enchantingly beautiful. 

The little vale into which I thus peered down from 
under the fog canopy could not have been more than four 
hundred yards long, while in breadth it varied from fifty 
to one hundred and fifty, or perhaps two hundred. It was 
most narrow at its northern extremity, opening out as it 
tended southwardly, but with no very precise regularity. 
The widest portion was within eighty yards of the south- 
ern extreme. The slopes which encompassed the vale 
could not fairly be called hills, unless at their northern 
face. Here a precipitous ledge of granite arose to a 
height of some ninety feet ; and, as I have mentioned, the 
valley at this point was not more than fifty feet wide; but 
as the visitor proceeded southwardly from this cliff he 
found on his right hand and on his left declivities at once 
less high, less precipitous, and less rocky. All, in a word, 
sloped and softened to the south ; and yet the whole vale 
was engirdled by eminences, more or less high, except at 
two points. One of these I have already spoken of. It 
lay considerably to the north of west, and was where the 
setting sun made its way, as I have before described, into 
the amphitheater through a cleanly-cut natural cleft in 
the granite embankment. This fissure might have been 
ten yards wide, at its widest point, so far as the eye could 
trace it. It seemed to lead up, up, like a natural cause- 
way, into the recesses of unexplored mountains and for- 
ests. The other opening was directly at the southern end 
of the vale. Here, generally, the slopes were nothing 
more than gentle inclinations, extending from east to west 
about one hundred and fifty yards. In the middle of this 
extent was a depression level with the ordinary floor of 
the valley. As regards vegetation, as well as in respect to 
everything else, the scene softened and sloped to the 
south. To the north, on the craggy precipice, a few 
paces from the verge, upsprang the magnificent trunks of 
numerous hickories, black walnuts and chestnuts, inter- 


spersed with occasional oak ; and the strong lateral 
branches thrown out by the walnuts, especially, spread 
far over the edge of the cliff. Proceeding southwardly, 
the explorer saw at first the same class of trees, but less 
and less lofty and Salvatorish in character; then he saw 
the gentler elm, succeeded by the sassafras and locust; 
these again by the softer linen, red-bud, catalpa and 
maple; these yet again by still more graceful and more 
modest varieties. The whole face of the southern de- 
clivity was covered with wild shrubbery alone, an occa- 
sional silver willow or white poplar excepted. In the 
bottom of the valley itself (for it must be borne in mind 
that the vegetation hitherto mentioned grew only on the 
cliffs or hillsides) were to be seen three insulated trees. 
One was an elm of fine size and exquisite form ; it stood 
guard over the southern gate of the vale. Another was a 
hickory, much larger than the elm, and altogether a much 
finer tree, although both were exceedingly beautiful; it 
seemed to have taken charge of the northwestern en- 
trance, springing from a group of rocks in the very jaws 
of the ravine and throwing its graceful body, at an angle 
of nearly forty-five degrees, far out into the sunshine of 
the amphitheater. About thirty yards east of this tree 
stood, however, the pride of the valley, and beyond all 
question the most magnificent tree I have ever seen, un- 
less, perhaps, among the cypresses of the Itchiatuckanee. 
It was a triple-stemmed tulip tree — the Liriodendron 
tulipiferum — one of the natural order of magnolias. Its 
three trunks separated from the parent at about three feet 
from the soil, and, diverging very slightly and gradually, 
were not more than four feet apart at the point where 
the largest stem shot out into foliage : this was at an ele- 
vation of about eighty feet. The whole height of the 
principal division was one hundred and twenty feet. 
Nothing can surpass in beauty the form or the glossy 
vivid green of the leaves of the tulip tree. In the present 



instance they were fully eight inches wide ; but their glory 
was altogether eclipsed by the gorgeous splendor of the 
profuse blossoms. Conceive, closely congregated, a mil- 
lion of the largest and most resplendent tulips ! Only thus 
can the reader get any idea of the picture I would convey. 
And then the stately grace of the clean, delicately-granu- 
lated columnar stems, the largest four feet in diameter at 
twenty from the ground. The innumerable blossoms, 
mingling with those of other trees scarcely less beautiful, 
although infinitely less majestic, filled the valley with 
more than Arabian perfumes. 

The general floor of the amphitheater was grass of the 
same character as that I had found in the road; if any- 
thing, more deliciously soft, thick, velvety, and mirac- 
ulously green. It was hard to conceive how all this beauty 
had been attained. 

I have spoken of the two openings into the vale. From 
the one to the northwest issued a rivulet, which came 
gently murmuring and slightly foaming down the ravine, 
until it dashed against the group of rocks out of which 
sprang the insulated hickory. Here, after encircling the 
tree, it passed on a little to the north of east, leaving the 
tulip tree some twenty feet to the south, and making no 
decided alteration in its course until it came near the mid- 
way between the eastern and western boundaries of the 
valley. At this point, after a series of sweeps, it turned 
off at right angles and pursued a generally southern di- 
rection, meandering as it went, until it became lost in a 
small lake of irregular figure (although roughly oval) 
that lay gleaming near the lower extremity of the vale. 
This lakelet was, perhaps, a hundred yards in diameter 
at its widest part. No crystal could be clearer than its 
waters. Its bottom, which could be distinctly seen, con- 
sisted altogether of pebbles brilliantly white. Its banks, 
of the emerald grass already described, rounded, rather 
than sloped, off into the clear heaven below ; and so clear 


was this heaven, so perfectly at times did it reflect all ob- 
jects above it, that where the true bank ended and where 
the mimic one commenced, it was a point of no little diffi- 
culty to determine. The trout, and some other varieties 
of fish, with which this pond seemed to be almost in- 
conveniently crowded, had all the appearance of veritable 
flying-fish. It was almost impossible to believe that they 
were not absolutely suspended in the air. A light birch 
canoe, that lay placidly on the water, was reflected in its 
minutest fibers with a fidelity unsurpassed by the most 
exquisitely polished mirror. A small island, fairly laugh- 
ing with flowers in full bloom, and affording little more 
space than just enough for a picturesque little building, 
seemingly a fowl-house, arose from the lake not far from 
its northern shore, to which it was connected by means 
of an inconceivably light-looking and yet very primitive 
bridge. It was formed of a single broad and thick plank 
of the tulip wood. This was forty feet long, and spanned 
the interval between shore and shore with a slight but 
very perceptible arch, preventing all oscillation. From 
the southern extreme of the lake issued a continuation 
of the rivulet, which, after meandering for perhaps thirty 
yards, finally passed through the “depression” (already 
described) in the middle of the southern declivity, and 
tumbling down a sheer precipice of a hundred feet, made 
its devious and unnoticed way to the Hudson. 

The lake was deep — at some points thirty feet — but the 
rivulet seldom exceeded three, while its greatest width 
was about eight. Its bottom and banks were as those of 
the pond — if a defect could have been attributed to them, 
in point of picturesqueness, it was that of excessive neat- 
ness . 

The expanse of the green turf was relieved, here and 
there, by an occasional showy shrub, such as the 
hydrangea, or the common snowball, or the aromatic 
syringa; or more frequently by a clump of geraniums 



blossoming gorgeously in great varieties. These latter 
grew in pots which were carefully buried in the soil, so 
as to give the plants the appearance of being indigenous. 
Besides all this the lawn’s velvet was exquisitely spotted 
with sheep, a considerable flock of which roamed about 
the vale, in company with three tamed deer, and a vast 
number of brilliantly-plumed ducks. A very large mastiff 
seemed to be in vigilant attendance upon these animals, 
each and all. 

Along the eastern and western cliffs — where, towards 
the upper portion of the amphitheater, the boundaries 
were more or less precipitous — grew ivy in great profu- 
sion, so that only here and there could even a glimpse of 
the naked rock be obtained. The northern precipice, in 
like manner, was almost entirely clothed by grape-vines 
of rare luxuriance; some springing from the soil at the 
base of the cliff, and others from ledges on its face. 

The slight elevation which formed the lower boundary 
of this little domain was crowned by a neat stone wall, of 
sufficient height to prevent the escape of the deer. Noth- 
ing of the fence kind was observable elsewhere; for no- 
where else was an artificial enclosure needed: any stray 
sheep, for example, which should attempt to make its way 
out of the vale by means of the ravine would find its prog- 
ress arrested, after a few yards’ advance, by the precipi- 
tous ledge of rock over which tumbled the cascade that 
had arrested my attention as I first drew near the domain. 
In short, the only ingress or egress was through a gate 
occupying a rocky pass in the road, a few paces below the 
point at which I stopped to reconnoiter the scene. 

I have described the brook as meandering very irregu- 
larly through the whole of its course. Its two general 
directions, as I have said, were first from west to east, 
and then from north to south. At the turn , the stream, 
sweeping backwards, made an almost circular loop so as to 
form a peninsula which was very nearly an island, and 


which included about the sixteenth of an acre. On this 
peninsula stood a dwelling-house — and when I say that 
this house, like the infernal terrace seen by Vathek, “etait 
d’une architecture inconnue dans les annates de la terre,” 
I mean merely that its tout ensemble struck me with the 
keenest sense of combined novelty and propriety — in a 
word of poetry (for, than in the words just employed, 
I could scarcely give, of poetry in the abstract, a more 
rigorous definition) — and I do not mean that the merely 
outre was perceptible in any respect. 

In fact, nothing could well be more simple, more utterly 
unpretending, than this cottage. Its, marvelous effect lay 
altogether in its artistic arrangement as a picture . I could 
have fancied, when I looked at it, that some eminent land- 
scape-painter had built it with his brush. 

The point of view from which I first saw the valley was 
not altogether , although it was nearly, the best point from 
which to survey the house. I will therefore describe it 
as I afterwards saw it — from a position on the stone wall 
at the southern extreme of the amphitheater. 

The main building was about twenty-four feet long and 
sixteen broad — certainly not more. Its total height, from 
the ground to the apex of the roof, could not have ex- 
ceeded eighteen feet. To the west end of this structure 
was attached one about a third smaller in all its propor- 
tions, the line of its front standing back about two yards 
from that of the larger house, and the line of its roof, of 
course, being considerably depressed below that of the 
roof adjoining. At right angles to these buildings, and 
from the rear of the main one — not exactly in the middle 
— extended a third compartment, very small, being, in 
general, one-third less than the western wing. The roofs 
of the two larger were very steep, sweeping down from 
the ridge-beam with a long concave curve, and extending 
at least four feet beyond the walls in front, so as to form 
the roofs of two piazzas. These latter roofs, of course, 



needed no support; but as they had the air of needing it, 
slight and perfectly plain pillars were inserted at the 
corners alone. The roof of the northern wing was merely 
an extension of a portion of the main roof. Between the 
chief building and western wing arose a very tall and 
rather slender square chimney of hard Dutch bricks, alter- 
nately black and red, a slight cornice of projecting bricks 
at the top. Over the gables, the roofs also projected very 
much: — in the main building about four feet to the east 
and two to the west. The principal door was not exactly 
in the main division, being a little to the east, while the 
two windows were to the west. These latter did not ex- 
tend to the floor, but were much longer and narrower than 
usual — they had single shutters like doors — the panes 
were of lozenge form, but quite large. The door itself 
had its upper half of glass, also in lozenge panes; a mov- 
able shutter secured it at night. The door to the west 
wing was in its gable, and quite simple; a single window 
looked out to the south. There was no external door to 
the north wing, and it also had only one window to the 

The blank wall of the eastern gable was relieved by 
stairs (with a balustrade) running diagonally across it, 
the ascent being from the south. Under cover of the 
widely projecting eave these steps gave access to a door 
leading into the garret, or rather loft — for it was lighted 
only by a single window to the north, and seemed to have 
been intended as a store-room. 

The piazzas of the main building and western wing had 
no floors, as is usual ; but at the doors and at each window, 
large, flat, irregular slabs of granite lay imbedded in the 
delicious turf, affording comfortable footing in all 
weather. Excellent paths of the same material — not nicely 
adapted, but with the velvety sod filling frequent inter- 
vals between the stones, led hither and thither from the 
house, to a crystal spring about five paces off, to the road, 


or to one or two outhouses that lay to the north, beyond 
the brook, and were thoroughly concealed by a few locusts 
and catalpas. 

Not more than six steps from the main door of the cot- 
tage stood the dead trunk of a fantastic pear-tree, so 
clothed from head to foot in the gorgeous bignonia blos- 
soms that one required no little scrutiny to determine 
what manner of sweet thing it could be. From various 
arms of this tree hung cages of different kinds. In one, 
a large wicker cylinder with a ring at top, reveled a mock- 
ing-bird; in another, an oriole; in a third, the impudent 
bobolink — while three or four more delicate prisons were 
loudly vocal with canaries. 

The pillars of the piazza were enwreathed in jasmine 
and sweet honeysuckle, while from the angle formed by 
the main structure and its west wing in front sprang a 
grape-vine of unexampled luxuriance. Scorning all re- 
straint, it had clambered first to the lower roof, then to 
the higher, and along the ridge of this latter it continued 
to writhe on, throwing out tendrils to the right and left, 
until at length it fairly attained the east gable, and fell 
trailing over the stairs. 

The whole house, with its wings, was constructed of the 
old-fashioned Dutch shingles, broad, and with unrounded 
corners. It is a peculiarity of this material to give houses 
built of it the appearance of being wider at bottom than 
at top, after the manner of Egyptian architecture; and 
in the present instance this exceedingly picturesque effect 
was aided by numerous pots of gorgeous flowers that al- 
most encompassed the base of the buildings. 

The shingles were painted a dull gray, and the happi- 
ness with which this neutral tint melted into the vivid 
green of the tulip-tree leaves that partially over-shadowed 
the cottage can readily be conceived by an artist. 

From the position near the stone wall, as described, the 
buildings were seen at great advantage, for the south- 



eastern angle was thrown forward, so that the eye took 
in at once the whole of the two fronts, with the pic- 
turesque eastern gable, and at the same time obtained 
just a sufficient glimpse of the northern wing, with parts 
of a pretty roof to the spring-house, and nearly half of a 
light bridge that spanned the brook in the near vicinity 
of the main buildings. 

I did not remain very long on the brow of the hill, al- 
though long enough to make a thorough survey of the 
scene at my feet. It was clear that I had wandered from 
the road to the village, and I had thus good travelers' ex- 
cuse to open the gate before me and inquire my way at 
all events ; so, without more ado, I proceeded. 

The road, after passing the gate, seemed to lie upon 
a natural ledge, sloping gradually down along the face of 
the northeastern cliffs. It led me to the foot of the north- 
ern precipice, and thence over the bridge, round by the 
eastern gable to the front door. In this progress, I took 
notice that no sight of the outhouses could be obtained. 

As I turned the corner of the gable the mastiff bounded 
towards me in stern silence, but with the eye and the 
whole air of a tiger. I held him out my hand, however, 
in token of amity, and I never yet knew the dog who was 
proof against such an appeal to his courtesy. He not only 
shut his mouth and wagged his tail, but absolutely offered 
me his paw, afterwards extending his civilities to Ponto. 

As no bell was discernible I rapped with my stick 
against the door which stood half open. Instantly a figure 
advanced to the threshold — that of a young woman about 
twenty-eight years of age — slender, or rather slight, and 
somewhat above the medium height. As she approached 
with a certain modest decision of step altogether inde- 
scribable, I said to myself, “Surely here I have found the 
perfection of natural in contradistinction from artificial 
grace” The second impression which she made on me, 
but by far the more vivid of the two, was that of en - 


thusiasm. So intense an expression of romance , perhaps 
I should call it, or of unworldliness, as that which gleamed 
from her deep-set eyes, had never so sunk into my heart 
of hearts before. I know not how it is, but this peculiar 
expression of the eye, wreathing itself occasionally into 
the lips, is the most powerful, if not absolutely the sole , 
spell which rivets my interest in woman. “Romance,” 
provided my readers fully comprehend what I would here 
imply by the word — “romance” and “womanliness” seem 
to me convertible terms, and after all, what man truly 
loves in woman is simply her womanhood . The eyes of 
Annie (I heard some one from the interior call her 
“Annie, darling!”) were “spiritual gray,” her hair a light 
chestnut; this is all I had time to observe of her. 

At her most courteous of invitations I entered, passing 
first into a tolerably wide vestibule. Having come mainly 
to observe , I took notice that to my right as I stepped in 
was a window such as those in front of the house, to the 
left, a door leading into the principal room, while, opposite 
me, an open door enabled me to see a small apartment, 
just the size of the vestibule, arranged as a study, and 
having a large bow window looking to the north. 

Passing into the parlor I found myself with Mr. Lan- 
dor , for this I afterwards found was his name. He was 
civil, even cordial, in his manner, but just then I was 
more intent on observing the arrangements of the dwell- 
ing which had so much interested me than the personal 
appearance of the tenant. 

The north wing I no w saw was a bedchamber, its door 
opened into the parlor. West of this door was a single 
window looking towards the brook. At the west end of 
the parlor were a fireplace and a door leading into the 
west wing, probably a kitchen. 

Nothing could be more rigorously simple than the fur- 
niture of the parlor. On the floor was an ingrain carpet 
of excellent texture, a white ground spotted with small 



circular green figures. At the windows were curtains 
of snowy white jaconet muslin; they were tolerably full, 
and hung decisively , perhaps rather formally, in sharp par- 
allel plaits to the floor — just to the floor. The walls were 
papered with a French paper of great delicacy, a silver 
ground with a faint green cord running zigzag throughout. 
Its expanse was relieved merely by three of Julien’s ex- 
quisite lithographs d trois crayons , fastened to the wall 
without frames. One of these drawings was a scene of 
Oriental luxury, or rather voluptuousness; another was 
a “carnival piece,” spirited beyond compare ; the third was 
a Greek female head: a face so divinely beautiful, and 
yet of an expression so provokingly indeterminate, never 
before arrested my attention. 

The more substantial furniture consisted of a round 
table, a few chairs (including a large rocking-chair), 
and a sofa, or rather “settee” ; its material was plain 
maple painted a creamy white, slightly interstriped with 
green ; the seat of cane. The chairs and table were “to 
match,” but the forms of all had evidently been designed 
by the same brain which planned “the grounds” — it is im- 
possible to conceive anything more graceful. 

On the table were a few books, a large, square, crystal 
bottle of some novel perfume, a plain ground-glass astral 
(not solar) lamp with an Italian shade, and a large vase 
of resplendently-blooming flowers. Flowers, indeed, of 
gorgeous colors and delicate odor formed the sole mere 
decoration of the apartment. The fireplace was nearly 
filled with a vase of brilliant geranium. On a triangular 
shelf in each angle of the room stood also a similar vase, 
varied only as to its lovely contents. One or two smaller 
bouquets adorned the mantel, and late violets clustered 
about the open windows. 

It is not the purpose of this work to do more than 
give, in detail, a picture of Mr. Landor’s residence as I 
found it. 



Let me call myself, for the present, William Wilson. 
The fair page now lying before me need not be sullied 
with my real appellation. This has been already too much 
an object for the scorn, for the horror, for the detestation 
of my race. To the uttermost regions of the globe have 
not the indignant winds bruited its unparalleled infamy? 
O outcast of all outcasts most abandoned ! to the earth art 
thou not forever dead? — to its honors, to its flowers, to 
its golden aspirations? — and a cloud, dense, dismal, and 
limitless, does it not hang eternally between thy hopes 
and heaven? 

I would not, if I could, here or to-day, embody a record 
of my later years of unspeakable misery and unpardon- 
able crime. This epoch — these later years — took unto 
themselves a sudden elevation in turpitude, whose origin 
alone it is my present purpose to assign. Men usually 
grow base by degrees. From me in an instant all virtue 
dropped bodily as a mantle. From comparatively trivial 
wickedness I passed, with the stride of a giant, into more 
than the enormities of an Elagabalus. What chance — 
what one event brought this evil thing to pass, bear with 
me while I relate. Death approaches, and the shadow 
which foreruns him has thrown a softening influence over 
my spirit. I long in passing through the dim valley for 
the sympathy, I had nearly said for the pity, of my fellow- 
men. I would fain have them believe that I have been in 
some measure the slave of circumstances beyond human 
control. I would wish them to seek out for me, in the de- 
tails I am about to give, some little oasis of fatality amid 



a wilderness of error. I would have them allow, what 
they cannot refrain from allowing, that although tempta- 
tion may have erewhile existed as great, man was never 
thus at least tempted before, certainly never thus fell. 
And is it therefore that he has never thus suffered ? Have 
I not indeed been living in a dream ? And am I not now 
dying a victim to the horror and the mystery of the wild- 
est of all sublunary visions? 

I am the descendant of a race whose imaginative and 
easily excitable temperament has at all times rendered 
them remarkable; and in my earliest infancy I gave evi- 
dence of having fully inherited the family character. As 
I advanced in years it was more strongly developed, be- 
coming for many reasons a cause of serious disquietude 
to my friends, and of positive injury to myself. I grew 
self-willed, addicted to the wildest caprices, and a prey 
to the most ungovernable passions. Weak-minded, and 
beset with constitutional infirmities akin to my own, my 
parents could do but little to check the evil propensities 
which distinguished me. Some feeble and ill-directed ef- 
forts resulted in complete failure on their part, and of 
course in total triumph on mine. Thenceforward my 
voice was a household law, and at an age when few chil- 
dren have abandoned their leading-strings, I was left to 
the guidance of my own will, and became in all but name 
the master of my own actions. 

My earliest recollections of a school-life are connected 
with a large rambling Elizabethan house, in a misty-look- 
ing village of England, where were a vast number of 
gigantic and gnarled trees, and where all the houses were 
excessively ancient. In truth, it was a dream-like and 
spirit-soothing place that venerable old town. At this 
moment, in fancy, I feel the refreshing chilliness of its 
deeply-shadowed avenues, inhale the fragrance of its 
thousand shrubberies, and thrill anew with indefinable de- 
light at the deep hollow note of the church-bell, breaking 


each hour with sullen and sudden roar upon the stillness 
of the dusky atmosphere in which the fretted Gothic 
steeple lay imbedded and asleep. 

It gives me perhaps as much of pleasure as I can now 
in any manner experience to dwell upon minute recollec- 
tions of the school and its concerns. Steeped in misery 
as I am — misery, alas ! only too real — I shall be pardoned 
for seeking relief, however slight and temporary, in the 
weakness of a few rambling details. These moreover, 
utterly trivial, and even ridiculous in themselves, assume 
to my fancy adventitious importance, as connected with a 
period and a locality when and where I ^recognize the first 
ambiguous monitions of the destiny which afterwards so 
fully overshadowed me. Let me then remember. 

The house, I have said, was old and irregular. The 
grounds were extensive, and a high and solid brick wall, 
topped with a bed of mortar and broken glass, encom- 
passed the whole. This prison-like rampart formed the 
limit of our domain : beyond it we saw but thrice a week, 
once every Saturday afternoon, when, attended by two 
ushers, we were permitted to take brief walks in a body 
through some of the neighboring fields ; and twice during 
Sunday, when we were paraded in the same formal man- 
ner to the morning and evening service in the one church 
of the village. Of this church the principal of our school 
was pastor. With how deep a spirit of wonder and per- 
plexity was I wont to regard him from our remote pew 
in the gallery, as with step solemn and slow he ascended 
the pulpit ! This reverend man, with countenance so de- 
murely benign, with robes so glossy and so clerically flow- 
ing, with wig so minutely powdered, so rigid and so vast 
— could this be he who, of late, with sour visage, and in 
snuffy habiliments, administered, ferule in hand, the 
Draconian laws of the academy ? O gigantic paradox, too 
utterly monstrous for solution! 

At an angle of the ponderous wall frowned a more pon- 



derous gate. It was riveted and studded with iron bolts, 
and surmounted with jagged iron pikes. What impres- 
sions of deep awe did it inspire! It was never opened 
save for the three periodical egressions and ingressions 
already mentioned; then in every creak of its mighty 
hinges we found a plenitude of mystery, a world of mat- 
ter for solemn remark, or for more solemn meditation. 

The extensive enclosure was irregular in form, having 
many capacious recesses. Of these, three or four of the 
largest constituted the playground. It was level, and 
covered with fine hard gravel. I well remember it had 
no trees nor benches, nor anything similar within it. Of 
course it was in the rear of the house. In front lay a 
small parterre, planted with box and other shrubs, but 
through this sacred division we passed only upon rare 
occasions indeed, such as a first advent to school or final 
departure thence, or perhaps, when a parent or friend 
having called for us, we joyfully took our way home for 
the Christmas or midsummer holidays. 

But the house ! — how quaint an old building was this ! 
— to me how veritably a palace of enchantment! There 
was really no end to its windings, to its incomprehensible 
subdivisions. It was difficult, at any given time, to say 
with certainty upon which of its two stories one happened 
to be. From each room to every other there were sure to 
be found three or four steps either in ascent or descent. 
Then the lateral branches were innumerable, inconceiv- 
able, and so returning in upon themselves that our most 
exact ideas in regard to the whole mansion were not very 
far different from those with which we pondered upon 
infinity. During the five years of my residence here I 
was never able to ascertain with precision in what remote 
locality lay the little sleeping apartment assigned to my- 
self and some eighteen or twenty other scholars. 

The schoolroom was the largest in the house — I could 
not help thinking, in the world. It was very long, 


narrow, and dismally low, with pointed Gothic windows 
and a ceiling of oak. In a remote and terror-inspiring 
angle was a square enclosure of eight or ten feet, com- 
prising the sanctum , “during hours,” of our principal, the 
Reverend Dr. Bransby. It was a solid structure, with 
massy door, sooner than open which in the absence of 
the “dominie” we would all have willingly perished by the 
peine forte et dure . In other angles were two other simi- 
lar boxes, far less reverenced, indeed, but still greatly 
matters of awe. One of these was the pulpit of the 
“classical” usher, one of the “English and mathematical.” 
Interspersed about the room, crossing and recrossing in 
endless irregularity, were innumerable benches and desks, 
black, ancient, and time-worn, piled desperately with 
much-bethumbed books, and so beseamed with initial let- 
ters, names at full length, grotesque figures, and other 
multiplied efforts of the knife, as to have entirely lost 
what little of original form might have been their portion 
in days long departed. A huge bucket with water stood at 
one extremity of the room, and a clock of stupendous 
dimensions at the other. 

Encompassed by the massy walls of this venerable 
academy, I passed, yet not in a tedium or disgust, the 
years of the third lustrum of my life. The teeming brain 
of childhood requires no external world of incident to 
occupy or amuse it ; and the apparently dismal monotony 
of a school was replete with more intense excitement than 
my riper youth has derived from luxury, or my full man- 
hood from crime. Yet I must believe that my first mental 
development had in it much of the uncommon — even 
much of the outre . Upon mankind at large the events 
of very early existence rarely leave in mature age any 
definite impression. All is gray shadow — a weak and 
irregular remembrance — an indistinct regathering of 
feeble pleasures and phantasmagoric pains. With me this 
is not so. In childhood I must have felt with the energy 



of a man what I now find stamped upon memory in lines 
as vivid, as deep, and as durable as the exergues of the 
Carthaginian medals. 

Yet in fact — in the fact of the world’s view — how little 
was there to remember ! The morning’s awakening, the 
nightly summons to bed ; the connings, the recitations ; the 
periodical half-holidays, and perambulations; the play- 
ground, with its broils, its pastimes, its intrigues ; — these, 
by a mental sorcery long forgotten, were made to involve 
a wilderness of sensation, a world of rich incident, a uni- 
verse of varied emotion, of excitement the most passionate 
and spirit-stirring. “O le bon temps , que ce siecle de 

In truth, the ardor, the enthusiasm, and the imperious- 
ness of my disposition, soon rendered me a marked char- 
acter among my schoolmates, and by slow but natural 
gradations gave me an ascendency over all not greatly 
older than myself — over all with a single exception. This 
exception was found in the person of a scholar, who, al- 
though no relation, bore the same Christian and surname 
as myself, a circumstance, in fact, little remarkable ; for, 
notwithstanding a noble descent, mine was one of those 
every-day appellations which seem, by prescriptive right, 
to have been, time out of mind, the common property of 
the mob. In this narrative I have therefore designated 
myself as William Wilson — a fictitious title not very dis- 
similar to the real. My namesake alone, of those who in 
school phraseology constituted “our set,” presumed to 
compete with me in the studies of the class — in the sports 
and broils of the playground — to refuse implicit belief in 
my assertions, and submission to my will— indeed, to in- 
terfere with my arbitrary dictation in any respect whatso- 
ever. If there is on earth a supreme and unqualified 
despotism, it is the despotism of a master-mind in boy- 
hood over the less energetic spirits of its companions. 

Wilson’s rebellion was to me a source of the greatest 


embarrassment: the more so as, in spite of the bravado 
with which in public I made a point of treating him and 
his pretensions, I secretly felt that I feared him, and could 
not help thinking the equality which he maintained so 
easily with myself a proof of his true superiority, since 
not to be overcome cost me a perpetual struggle. Yet this 
superiority — even this equality — was in truth acknowl- 
edged by no one but myself ; our associates, by some unac- 
countable blindness, seemed not even to suspect it. In- 
deed, his competition, his resistance, and especially his im- 
pertinent and dogged interference with my purposes, were 
not more pointed than private. He appeared to be des- 
titute alike of the ambition which urged and of the pas- 
sionate energy of mind which enabled me to excel. In his 
rivalry he might have been supposed actuated solely by 
a whimsical desire to thwart, astonish, or mortify myself ; 
although there were times when I could not help observ- 
ing, with a feeling made up of wonder, abasement, and 
pique, that he mingled with his injuries, his insults, or his 
contradictions, a certain most inappropriate, and assuredly 
most unwelcome, affectionateness of manner. I could 
only conceive this singular behavior to arise from a con- 
summate self-conceit assuming the vulgar airs of patron- 
age and protection. 

Perhaps it was this latter trait in Wilson’s conduct, 
conjoined with our identity of name, and the mere acci- 
dent of our having entered the school upon the same day, 
which set afloat the notion that we were brothers among 
the senior classes in the academy. These do not usually 
inquire with much strictness into the affairs of their 
juniors. I have before said, or should have said, that 
Wilson was not, in the most remote degree, connected 
with my family. But assuredly if we had been brothers 
we must have been twins; for, after leaving Dr. 
Bransby’s, I casually learned that my namesake was born 
on the nineteenth of January, 1813 — and this is a some- 



what remarkable coincidence, for the day is precisely 
that of my own nativity. 

It may seem strange that in spite of the continual 
anxiety occasioned me by the rivalry of Wilson, and his 
intolerable spirit of contradiction, I could not bring my- 
self to hate him altogether. We had, to be sure, nearly 
every day a quarrel, in which, yielding me publicly the 
palm of victory, he in some manner contrived to make 
me feel that it was he who had deserved it, yet a sense of 
pride on my part and a veritable dignity on his own, kept 
us always upon what are called ‘‘speaking terms,” while 
there were many points of strong congeniality in our tem- 
pers, operating to awake in me a sentiment which our 
position alone, perhaps, prevented from ripening into 
friendship. It is difficult indeed to define or even to de- 
scribe my real feelings towards him. They formed a 
motley and heterogeneous admixture; some petulant ani- 
mosity, which was not yet hatred, some esteem, more re- 
spect, much fear, with a world of uneasy curiosity. To 
the moralist it will be unnecessary to say in addition that 
Wilson and myself were the most inseparable of com- 

It was no doubt the anomalous state of affairs existing 
between us which turned all my attacks upon him (and 
they were many, either open or covert) into the channel 
of banter or practical joke (giving pain while assuming 
the aspect of mere fun), rather than into a more serious 
and determined hostility. But my endeavors on this head 
were by no means uniformly successful, even when my 
plans were the most wittily concocted; for my namesake 
had much about him in character of that unassuming and 
quiet austerity which, while enjoying the poignancy of its 
own jokes, has no heel of Achilles in itself, and absolutely 
refuses to be laughed at. I could find indeed but one 
vulnerable point, and that lying in a personal peculiarity, 
arising perhaps from constitutional disease, would have 


been spared by any antagonist less at his wits’ end than 
myself ; my rival had a weakness in the faucial or gut- 
tural organs which precluded him from raising his voice 
at any time above a very low whisper . Of this defect I 
did not fail to take what poor advantage lay in my power. 

Wilson’s retaliations in kind were many; and there 
was one form of his practical wit that disturbed me be- 
yond measure. How his sagacity first discovered at all 
that so petty a thing would vex me is a question I never 
could solve, but having discovered, he habitually practised 
the annoyance. I had always felt aversion to my un- 
courtly patronymic and its very common, if not plebeian 
prenomen. The words were venom in my ears; and 
when, upon the day of my arrival, a second William Wil- 
son came also to the academy, I felt angry with him for 
bearing the name, and doubly disgusted with the name be- 
cause a stranger bore it, who would be the cause of its 
twofold repetition, who would be constantly in my pres- 
ence, and whose concerns, in the ordinary routine of the 
school business, must inevitably, on account of the de- 
testable coincidence, be often confounded with my own. 

The feeling of vexation thus engendered grew stronger 
with every circumstance tending to show resemblance, 
moral or physical, between my rival and myself. I had 
not then discovered the remarkable fact that we were of 
the same age ; but I saw that we were of the same height, 
and I perceived that we were even singularly alike in gen- 
eral contour of person and outline of feature. I was 
galled, too, by the rumor touching a relationship which 
had grown current in the upper forms. In a word, noth- 
ing could more seriously disturb me (although I scrupu- 
lously concealed such disturbance), than any allusion to a 
similarity of mind, person, or condition existing between 
us. But, in truth, I had no reason to believe that (with 
the exception of the matter of relationship, and in the 
case of Wilson himself) this similarity had ever been 



made a subject of comment or even observed at all by our 
schoolfellows. That he observed it in all its bearings, and 
as fixedly as I, was apparent; but that he could discover 
in such circumstances so fruitful a field of annoyance can 
only be attributed, as I said before, to his more than ordi- 
nary penetration. 

His cue, which was to perfect an imitation of myself, 
lay both in words and in actions, and most admirably did 
he play his part. My dress it was an easy matter to copy ; 
my gait and general manner were without difficulty ap- 
propriated; in spite of his constitutional defect, even my 
voice did not escape him. My louder tones were of 
course unattempted, but then the key, it was identical; 
and his singular whisper, it grew the very echo of my 
own . 

How greatly this most exquisite portraiture harassed 
me (for it could not justly be termed a caricature), I will 
not now venture to describe. I had but one consolation 
— in the fact that the imitation, apparently, was noticed 
by myself alone, and that I had to endure only the know- 
ing and strangely sarcastic smiles of my namesake him- 
self. Satisfied with having produced in my bosom the 
intended effect, he seemed to chuckle in secret over the 
sting he had inflicted, and was characteristically disre- 
gardful of the public applause which the success of his 
witty endeavors might have so easily elicited. That the 
school, indeed, did not feel his design, perceive its accom- 
plishment, and participate in his sneer, was for many 
anxious months a riddle I could not solve. Perhaps the 
gradation of his copy rendered it not so readily per- 
ceptible, or more possibly I owed my security to the mas- 
terly air of the copyist, who, disdaining the letter (which 
in a painting is all the obtuse can see), gave but the full 
spirit of his original for my individual contemplation and 

I have already more than once spoken of the disgusting 


air of patronage which he assumed toward me, and of 
his frequent officious interference with my will. This 
interference often took the ungracious character of advice 
— advice not openly given but hinted or insinuated. I 
received it with a repugnance which gained strength as I 
grew in years. Yet at this distant day, let me do him the 
simple justice to acknowledge that I can recall no occa- 
sion when the suggestions of my rival were on the side 
of those errors or follies so usual to his immature age 
and seeming inexperience; that his moral sense, at least, 
if not his general talents and worldly wisdom, was far 
keener than my own ; and that I might to-day have been 
a better, and thus a happier man, had I less frequently re- 
jected the counsels embodied in those meaning whispers 
which I then but too cordially hated and too bitterly de- 

As it was, I at length grew restive in the extreme under 
his distasteful supervision, and daily resented more and 
more openly what I considered his intolerable arrogance. 
I have said that in the first years of our connection as 
schoolmates, my feelings in regard to him might have been 
easily ripened into friendship; but, in the latter months 
of my residence at the academy, although the intrusion of 
his ordinary manner had, beyond doubt, in some measure 
abated, my sentiments in nearly similar proportion par- 
took very much of positive hatred. Upon one occasion he 
saw this, I think, and afterwards avoided, or made a show 
of avoiding me. 

It was about the same period, if I remember aright, 
that, in an altercation of violence with him, in which he 
was more than usually thrown off his guard, and spoke 
and acted with an openness of demeanor rather foreign 
to his nature, I discovered, or fancied I discovered, in his 
accent, his air, and general appearance, a something which 
first startled, and then deeply interested me, by bringing 
to mind dim visions of my earliest infancy, wild, con- 



fused, and thronging memories of a time when memory 
herself was yet unborn. I cannot better describe the sen- 
sation which oppressed me than by saying that I could 
with difficulty shake off the belief of my having been ac- 
quainted with the being who stood before me at some 
i epoch very long ago, some point of the past even infinitely 
remote. The delusion, however, faded rapidly as it came, 
and I mention it at all but to define the day of the last 
conversation I there held with my singular namesake. 

The huge old house, with its countless subdivisions, had 
several large chambers communicating with each other, 
where slept the greater number of the students. There 
were, however (as must necessarily happen in a building 
so awkwardly planned), many little nooks or recesses, 
the odds and ends of the structure, and these the economic 
ingenuity of Dr. Bransby had also fitted up as dormi- 
tories, although, being the merest closets, they were 
capable of accommodating but a single individual. One 
of these small apartments was occupied by Wilson. 

One night, about the close of my fifth year at the 
school, and immediately after the altercation just men- 
tioned, finding every one wrapped in sleep, I arose from 
bed, and, lamp in hand, stole through a wilderness of nar- 
row passages from my own bedroom to that of my rival. 
I had long been plotting one of those ill-natured pieces of 
practical wit at his expense in which I had hitherto been 
so uniformly unsuccessful. It was my intention now to 
put my scheme in operation, and I resolved to make him 
feel the whole extent of the malice with which I was im- 
bued. Having reached his closet I noiselessly entered, 
leaving the lamp, with a shade over it, on the outside. I 
advanced a step and listened to the sound of his tranquil 
breathing. Assured of his being asleep, I returned, took 
the light, and with it again approached the bed. Close 
curtains were around it, which, in the prosecution of my 
plan, I slowly and quietly withdrew, when the bright rays 


fell vividly upon the sleeper, and my eyes, at the same 
moment, upon his countenance. I looked, and a numb- 
ness, an iciness of feeling, instantly pervaded my frame. 
My breast heaved, my knees tottered, my whole spirit be- 
came possessed with an objectless yet intolerable horror. 
Gasping for breath I lowered the lamp in still nearer 
proximity to the face. Were these — these the lineaments 
of William Wilson? I saw, indeed, that they were his, 
but I shook as if with a fit of the ague in fancying they 
were not. What was there about them to confound me in 
this manner ? I gazed, while my brain reeled with a multi- 
tude of incoherent thoughts. Not thus he appeared, as- 
suredly not thus , in the vivacity of his waking hours. The 
same name, the same contour of person, the same day of 
arrival at the academy; and then his dogged and mean- 
ingless imitation of my gait, my voice, my habits, and my 
manner. Was it, in truth, within the bounds of human 
possibility that what I now saw was the result merely of 
the habitual practice of the sarcastic imitation? Awe- 
stricken, and with a creeping shudder, I extinguished the 
lamp, passed silently from the chamber, and left at once 
the halls of that old academy, never to enter them again. 

After a lapse of some months, spent at home in mere 
idleness, I found myself a student at Eton. The brief 
interval had been sufficient to enfeeble my remembrance 
of the events at iDr. Bransby’s, or at least to effect a 
material change in the nature of the feelings with which 
I remembered them. The truth, the tragedy, of the 
drama was no more. I could now 7 find room to doubt the 
evidence of my senses, and seldom called up the subject 
at all but with wonder at the extent of human credulity, 
and a smile at the vivid force of the imagination which 
I hereditarily possessed. Neither was this species of 
skepticism likely to be diminished by the character of the 
life I led at Eton. The vortex of thoughtless folly into 
which I there so immediately and so recklessly plunged 



washed away all but the froth of my past hours, engulfed 
at once every solid or serious impression, and left to 
memory only the veriest levities of a former existence. 

I do not wish, however, to trace the course of my 
miserable profligacy here — a profligacy which set at de- 
fiance the laws, while it eluded the vigilance of the institu- 
tion. Three years of folly, passed without profit, had but 
given me rooted habits of vice, and added, in a somewhat 
unusual degree, to my bodily stature, when, after a week 
of soulless dissipation, I invited a small party of the most 
dissolute students to a secret carousal in my chambers. 
We met at a late hour of the night, for our debaucheries 
were to be faithfully protracted until morning. The 
wine flowed freely, and there were not wanting other and 
perhaps more dangerous seductions, so that the gray dawn 
had already faintly appeared in the east, while our de- 
lirious extravagance was at its height. Madly flushed 
with cards and intoxication, I was in the act of insisting 
upon a toast of more than wonted profanity when my at- 
tention was suddenly diverted by the violent, although 
partial, unclosing of the door of the apartment, and by 
the eager voice of a servant from without. He said that 
some person, apparently in great haste, demanded to speak 
with me in the hall. 

Wildly excited with wine, the unexpected interruption 
rather delighted than surprised me. I staggered forward 
at once, and a few steps brought me to the vestibule of 
the building. In this low and small room there hung no 
lamp, and now no light at all was admitted, save that of 
the exceedingly feeble dawn which made its way through 
the semicircular window. As I put my foot over the 
threshold I became aware of the figure of a youth about 
my own height, and habited in a white kerseymere morn- 
ing frock, cut in the novel fashion of the one I myself 
wore at the moment. This the faint light enabled me to 
perceive, but the features of his face I could not distin- 


guish. Upon my entering he strode hurriedly up to me, 
and, seizing me by the arm, with a gesture of petulant 
impatience, whispered the words “William Wilson !” in 
my ear. 

I grew perfectly sober in an instant. 

There was that in the manner of the stranger, and in 
the tremulous shake of his uplifted finger, as he held it 
between my eyes and the light, which filled me with un- 
qualified amazement; but it was not this which had so 
violently moved me. It was the pregnancy of solemn 
admonition in the singular, low, hissing utterance, and, 
above all, it was the character, the tone, the key , of those 
few, simple, and familiar, yet whispered syllables, which 
came with a thousand thronging memories of bygone 
days, and struck upon my soul with the shock of a gal- 
vanic battery. Ere I could recover the use of my senses 
he was gone. 

Although this event failed not of a vivid effect upon 
my disordered imagination, yet was it evanescent as vivid. 
For some weeks, indeed, I busied myself in earnest in- 
quiry, or was wrapped in a cloud of morbid speculation. 
I did not pretend to disguise from my perception the 
identity of the singular individual who thus perseveringly 
interfered with my affairs, and harassed me with his in- 
sinuated counsel. But who and what was this Wilson? 
— and whence came he? — and what were his purposes? 
Upon neither of these points could I be satisfied — merely 
ascertaining in regard to him, that a sudden accident in 
his family had caused his removal from Dr. Bransby’s 
academy on the afternoon of the day in which I myself 
had eloped. But in a brief period I ceased to think upon 
the subject, my attention being all absorbed in a con- 
templated departure for Oxford. Thither I soon went, 
the uncalculating vanity of my parents furnishing me 
with an outfit and annual establishment which would 
enable me to indulge at will in the luxury already so dear 



to my heart — to vie in profuseness of expenditure with 
the haughtiest heirs of the wealthiest earldoms in Great 

Excited by such appliancies to vice, my constitutional 
temperament broke forth with redoubled ardor, and I 
spurned even the common restraints of decency in the 
mad infatuation of my revels. But it were absurd to 
pause in the detail of my extravagance. Let it suffice, 
that among spendthrifts I out-Heroded Herod, and that 
giving name to a multitude of novel follies, I added no 
brief appendix to the long catalogue of vices then usual 
in the most dissolute university of Europe. 

It could hardly be credited, however, that I had, even 
here, so utterly fallen from the gentlemanly estate as 
to seek acquaintance with the vilest arts of the gambler 
by profession, and having become an adept in his despi- 
cable science, to practice it habitually as a means of in- 
creasing my already enormous income at the expense of 
the weak-minded among my fellow-collegians. Such, 
nevertheless, was the fact; and the very enormity of 
this offense against all manly and honorable sentiment 
proved, beyond doubt, the main, if not the sole reason 
of the impunity with which it was committed. Who, in- 
deed, among my most abandoned associates would not 
rather have disputed the clearest evidence of his senses 
than have suspected of such courses the gay, the frank, 
the generous William Wilson — the noblest and most 
liberal commoner at Oxford — him whose follies (said his 
parasites) were but the follies of youth and unbridled 
fancy — whose errors but inimitable whim — whose dark- 
est vice but a careless and dashing extravagance ? 

I had been now two years successfully busied in this 
way when there came to the university a young par- 
venu nobleman, Glendinning — rich, said report, as 
Herodes Atticus — his riches, too, as easily acquired. I 
soon found him of weak intellect, and of course marked 


him as a fitting subject for my skill. I frequently en- 
gaged him in play, and contrived with the gambler's usual 
art to let him win considerable sums, the more effectually 
to entangle him in my snares. At length, my schemes 
being ripe, I met him (with the full intention that this 
meeting should be final and decisive) at the chambers 
of a fellow-commoner (Mr. Preston) equally intimate 
with both, but who, to do him justice, entertained not 
even a remote suspicion of my design. To give to this 
a better coloring I had contrived to have assembled a 
party of some eight or ten, and was solicitously careful 
that the introduction of cards should appear accidental, 
and originate in the proposal of my contemplated dupe 
himself. To be brief upon a vile topic, none of the low 
finesse was omitted, so customary upon similar occasions, 
that it is a just matter for wonder how any are still found 
so besotted as to fall its victim. 

We had protracted our sitting far into the night, and 
I had at length effected the maneuver of getting Glen- 
dinning as my sole antagonist. The game, too, was my 
favorite ecarte. The rest of the company, interested in 
the extent of our play, had abandoned their own cards, 
and were standing around us as spectators. The parvenu , 
who had been induced by my artifices in the early part 
of the evening to drink deeply, now shuffled, dealt, or 
played, with a wild nervousness of manner for which his 
intoxication I thought might partially but could not al- 
together account. In a very short period he had become 
my debtor to a large amount, when, having taken a long 
draught of port, he did precisely what I had been coolly 
anticipating — he proposed to double our already extrava- 
gant stakes. With a well-feigned show of reluctance, 
and not until after my repeated refusal had seduced him 
into some angry words which gave a color of pique to my 
compliance, did I finally comply. The result of course 
did but prove how entirely the prey was in my toils : in 



less than an hour he had quadrupled his debt. For some 
time his countenance had been losing the florid tinge lent 
it by the wine, but now to my astonishment I perceived 
that it had grown to a pallor truly fearful. I say to my 
astonishment. Glendinning had been represented to my 
eager inquiries as immeasurably wealthy; and the sums 
which he had as yet lost, although in themselves vast, 
could not, I supposed, very seriously annoy, much less 
so violently affect him. That he was overcome by the 
wine just swallowed was the idea which most readily 
presented itself ; and, rather with a view to the preserva- 
tion of my own character in the eyes of my associates, 
than from any less interested motive, I was about to 
insist peremptorily upon a discontinuance of the play, 
when some expressions at my elbow from among the 
company, and an ejaculation evincing utter despair on 
the part of Glendinning, gave me to understand that I 
had effected his total ruin under circumstances which, ren- 
dering him an object for the pity of all, should have 
protected him from the ill offices even of a fiend. 

What now might have been my conduct it is difficult 
to say. The pitiable condition of my dupe had thrown 
an air of embarrassed gloom over all, and for some 
moments a profound silence was maintained, during which 
I could not help feeling my cheeks tingle with the many 
burning glances of scorn or reproach cast upon me by 
the less abandoned of the party. I will even own that 
an intolerable weight of anxiety was a brief instant 
lifted from my bosom by the sudden and extraordinary 
interruption which ensued. The wide heavy folding-doors 
of the apartment were all at once thrown open to their 
full extent with a vigorous and rushing impetuosity that 
extinguished, as if by magic, every candle in the room. 
Their light, in dying, enabled us just to perceive that 
a stranger had entered, about my own height, and closely 
muffled in a cloak. The darkness, however, was now total, 


and we could only feel that he was standing in our midst. 
Before any one of us could recover from the extreme 
astonishment into which this rudeness had thrown all, 
we heard the voice of the intruder. 

“Gentlemen,” he said, in a low, distinct, and never-to- 
be-forgotten whisper which thrilled to the very marrow 
of my bones — “gentlemen, I make no apology for this 
behavior, because in thus behaving, I am but fulfilling my 
duty. You are, beyond doubt, uninformed of the true 
character of the person who has to-night won at ecarte 
a large sum of money from Lord Glendinning. I will 
therefore put you upon an expeditious and decisive plan 
of obtaining this very necessary information. Please to 
examine at your leisure the inner linings of the cuff of 
his left sleeve, and the several little packages which may 
be found in the somewhat capacious pockets of his em- 
broidered morning wrapper.” 

While he spoke, so profound was the stillness that 
one might have heard a pin drop upon the floor. In 
ceasing, he departed at once, and as abruptly as he had 
entered. Can I — shall I describe my sensations? Must 
I say that I felt all the horrors of the damned? Most 
assuredly I had little time for reflection. Many hands 
roughly seized me upon the spot, and lights were im- 
mediately reprocured. A search ensued. In the lining of 
my sleeve were found all the court cards essential in 
ecarte, and in the pockets of my wrapper a number of 
packs, fac-similes of those used at our sittings, with the 
single exception that mine were of the species called, 
technically, arrondees; the honors being slightly convex 
at the ends, the lower cards slightly convex at the sides. 
In this disposition, the dupe who cuts, as customary, at 
the length of the pack, will invariably find that he cuts 
his antagonist an honor; while the gambler, cutting at 
the breadth, will as certainly cut nothing for his victim 
which may count in the records of the game. 



Any burst of indignation upon this discovery would 
have affected me less than the silent contempt, or the 
sarcastic composure, with which it was received. 

“Mr. Wilson,” said our host, stooping to remove from 
beneath his feet an exceedingly luxurious cloak of rare 
furs — “Mr. Wilson, this is your property.” (The weather 
was cold ; and upon quitting my own room, I had thrown 
a cloak over my dressing wrapper, putting it off upon 
reaching the scene of play.) “I presume it is supereroga- 
tory to seek here” (eying the folds of the garment with 
a bitter smile) “for any further evidence of your skill. 
Indeed, we have had enough. You will see the necessity, 
I hope, of quitting Oxford — at all events, of quitting 
instantly my chambers.” 

Abased, humbled to the dust as I then was, it is prob- 
able that I should have resented this galling language 
by immediate personal violence, had not my whole atten- 
tion been at the moment arrested by a fact of the most 
startling character. The cloak which I had worn was 
of a rare description of fur ; how rare, how extravagantly 
costly, I shall not venture to say. Its fashion, too, was 
of my own fantastic invention, for I was fastidious to 
an absurd degree of coxcombry in matters of this friv- 
olous nature. When, therefore, Mr. Preston reached me 
that which he had picked up upon the floor, and near the 
folding-doors of the apartment, it was with an astonish- 
ment nearly bordering upon terror, that I perceived my 
own already hanging on my arm (where I had no doubt 
unwittingly placed it), and that the one presented me 
was but its exact counterpart in every, in even the minu- 
test possible particular. The singular being who had so 
disastrously exposed me had been muffled, I remembered, 
in a cloak, and none had been worn at all by any of the 
members of our party with the exception of myself. 
Retaining some presence of mind, I took the one offered 
me by Preston, placed it unnoticed over my own, left the 


apartment with a resolute scowl of defiance, and next 
morning, ere dawn of day, commenced a hurried journey 
from Oxford to the Continent in a perfect agony of 
horror and of shame. 

I fled in vain. My evil destiny pursued me as if in 
exultation, and proved indeed that the exercise of its 
mysterious dominion had as yet only begun. Scarcely 
had I set foot in Paris ere I had fresh evidence of the 
detestable interest taken by this Wilson in my concerns. 
Years flew while I experienced no relief. Villain! — at 
Rome, with how untimely, yet with how spectral an 
officiousness, stepped he in between me and my ambition ! 
At Vienna, too — at Berlin — and at Moscow! Where, 
in truth, had I not bitter cause to curse him within my 
heart? From his inscrutable tyranny did I at length 
flee, panic-stricken, as from a pestilence; and to the 
very ends of the earth I fled in vain . 

And again and again, in secret communion with my own 
spirit, would I demand the questions “Who is he? — 
whence came he? — and what are his objects?” But no 
answer was there found. And now I scrutinized, with a 
minute scrutiny, the forms, and the methods, and the lead- 
ing traits of his impertinent supervision. But even here 
there was very little upon which to base a conjecture. It 
was noticeable, indeed, that in no one of the multiplied 
instances in which he had of late crossed my path had he 
so crossed it except to frustrate those schemes, or to dis- 
turb those actions, which, if fully carried out, might have 
resulted in bitter mischief. Poor justification this, in truth, 
for an authority so imperiously assumed ! Poor indemnity 
for natural rights of self-agency so pertinaciously, so in- 
sultingly denied ! 

I had also been forced to notice that my tormentor 
for a very long period of time (while scrupulously and 
with miraculous dexterity maintaining his whim of an 
identity of apparel with myself) had so contrived it, in 



the execution of his varied interference with my will, 
that I saw not at any moment the features of his face. 
Be Wilson what he might, this at least was but the veriest 
of affectation or of folly. Could he for an instant have 
supposed that in my admonisher at Eton — in the destroy- 
er of my honor at Oxford — in him who thwarted my 
ambition at Rome, my revenge at Paris, my passionate 
love at Naples, or what he falsely termed my avarice 
in Egypt, — that in this, my arch-enemy and evil genius, 
I could fail to recognize the William Wilson of my school- 
boy days, — the namesake, the companion, the rival, — 
the hated and dreaded rival at Dr. Bransby’s? Impos- 
sible ! — But let me hasten to the last eventful scene of 
the drama. 

Thus far I had succumbed supinely to this imperious 
domination. The sentiment of deep awe with which I 
habitually regarded the elevated character, the majestic 
wisdom, the apparent omnipresence and omnipotence of 
Wilson, added to a feeling of even terror, with which 
certain other traits in his nature and assumptions in- 
spired me, had operated hitherto to impress me with an 
idea of my own utter weakness and helplessness, and to 
suggest an implicit, although bitterly reluctant submission 
to his arbitrary will. But of late days I had given myself 
up entirely to wine, and its maddening influence upon my 
hereditary temper rendered me more and more impatient 
of control. I began to murmur, to hesitate, to resist. 
And was it only fancy which induced me to believe that, 
with the increase of my own firmness, that of my tor- 
mentor underwent a proportional diminution? Be this 
as it may, I now began to feel the inspiration of a burning 
hope, and at length nurtured in my secret thoughts a 
stern and desperate resolution that I would submit no 
longer to be enslaved. 

It was at Rome, during the Carnival of 18 — , that I 
attended a masquerade in the palazzo of the Neapolitan 


Duke Di Broglio. I had indulged more freely than usual 
in the excesses of the wine-table, and now the suffocating 
atmosphere of the crowded rooms irritated me beyond 
endurance. The difficulty, too, of forcing my way through 
the mazes of the company contributed not a little to the 
ruffling of my temper; for I was anxiously seeking 
(let me not say with what unworthy motive) the young, 
the gay, the beautiful wife of the aged and doting Di 
Broglio. With a too unscrupulous confidence she had 
previously communicated to me the secret of the costume 
in which she would be habited, and now, having caught 
a glimpse of her person, I was hurrying to make my 
way into her presence. At this moment I felt a light 
hand placed upon my shoulder, and that ever-remembered, 
low, damnable whisper within my ear. 

In an absolute frenzy of wrath I turned at once upon 
him who had thus interrupted me, and seized him vio- 
lently by the collar. He was attired, as I had expected, 
in a costume altogether similar to my own; wearing a 
Spanish cloak of blue velvet, begirt about the waist 
with a crimson belt sustaining a rapier. A mask of 
black silk entirely covered his face. 

“Scoundrel ! ” I said, in a voice husky with rage, while 
every syllable I uttered seemed as new fuel to my fury 
— “scoundrel ! imposter ! accursed villain ! you shall not 
— you shall not dog me unto death! Follow me, or 
I stab you where you stand !” — and I broke my way 
from the ballroom into a small antechamber adjoining, 
dragging him unresistingly with me as I went. 

Upon entering, I thrust him furiously from me. He 
staggered against the wall, while I closed the door with 
an oath, and commanded him to draw. He hesitated 
but for an instant; then with a slight sigh, drew in 
silence, and put himself upon his defense. 

The contest was brief indeed. I was frantic with 
every species of wild excitement, and felt within my 



single arm the energy and power of a multitude. In 
a few seconds I forced him by sheer strength against the 
wainscoting, and thus, getting him at mercy, plunged 
my sword, with brute ferocity, repeatedly through and 
through his bosom. 

At that instant some person tried the latch of the 
door. I hastened to prevent an intrusion, and then 
immediately returned to my dying antagonist. But 
what human language can adequately portray that aston- 
ishment, that horror which possessed me at the spectacle 
then presented to view? The brief moment in which I 
averted my eyes had been sufficient to produce apparently 
a material change in the arrangements at the upper or 
farther end of the room. A large mirror — so at first it 
seemed to me in my confusion — now stood where none 
had been perceptible before; and, as I stepped up to it 
in extremity of terror, mine own image, but with features 
all pale and dabbled in blood, advanced to meet me with 
a feeble and tottering gait. 

Thus it appeared, I say, but was not. It was my 
antagonist — it was Wilson who then stood before me in 
the agonies of his dissolution. His mask and cloak lay 
where he had thrown them upon the floor. Not a thread 
in all his raiment — not a line in all the marked and 
singular lineaments of his face which was not, even in the 
most absolute identity, mine own! 

It was Wilson; but he spoke no longer in a whisper, 
and I could have fancied that I myself was speaking 
while he said: 

“You have conquered and I yield. Yet , henceforward 
art thou also dead — dead to the World, to Heaven, and 
to Hope ! In me didst thou exist — and, in my death, see 
by this image, which is thine own, how utterly thou hast 
murdered thyself 



Misery is manifold. The wretchedness of earth is 
multiform. Overreaching the wide horizon as the rain- 
bow, its hues are as various as the hues of that arch, 
as distinct too, yet as intimately blended. Overreaching 
the wide horizon as the rainbow! How is it that from 
beauty I have derived a type of unloveliness? from the 
covenant of peace a simile of sorrow ? But as in ethics, 
evil is a consequence of good, so in fact, out of joy is 
sorrow born. Either the memory of past bliss is the 
anguish of to-day, or the agonies which are have their 
origin in the ecstasies which might have been . 

My baptismal name is Egaeus, that of my family I 
will not mention. Yet there are no towers in the land 
more time-honored than my gloomy, gray, hereditary 
halls. Our line has been called a race of visionaries; 
and in many striking particulars — in the character of the 
family mansion, in the frescoes of the chief saloon, in 
the tapestries of the dormitories, in the chiseling of some 
buttresses in the armory, but more especially in the 
gallery of antique paintings, in the fashion of the library 
chamber, and lastly, in the very peculiar nature of the 
library’s contents — there is more than sufficient evidence 
to warrant the belief. 

The recollections of my earliest years are connected 
with that chamber and with its volumes, of which latter 
I will say no more. Here died my mother. Herein was 
I born. But it is mere idleness to say that I had not 
lived before, that the soul has no previous existence. 
You deny it? let us not argue the matter. Convinced 



myself, I seek not to convince. There is, however, a 
remembrance of aerial forms, of spiritual and meaning 
eyes, of sounds, musical yet sad; a remembrance which 
will not be excluded, a memory like a shadow, vague, 
variable, indefinite, unsteady, and like a shadow, too, in 
the impossibility of my getting rid of it while the sun- 
light of my reason shall exist. 

In that chamber was I born. Thus awaking from the 
long night of what seemed, but was not nonentity, at 
once into the very regions of fairy-land, into a palace of 
imagination, into the wild dominions of monastic thought 
and erudition, it is not singular that I gazed around me 
with a startled and ardent eye, that I loitered away my 
boyhood in books, and dissipated my youth in reverie; 
but it is singular, that, as years rolled away and the noon 
of manhood found me still in the mansion of my fathers, 
it is wonderful what stagnation there fell upon the springs 
of my life, wonderful how total an inversion took place 
in the character of my commonest thought. The 
realities of the world affected me as visions, and as 
visions only, while the wild ideas of the land of dreams 
became, in turn, not the material of my every-day ex- 
istence, but in very deed that existence utterly and solely 
in itself. 

Berenice and I were cousins, and we grew up together 
in my paternal halls. Yet differently we grew — I, ill 
of health and buried in gloom, she, agile, graceful, and 
overflowing with energy; hers the ramble on the hill- 
side, mine the studies of the cloister ; I, living within my 
own heart, and addicted, body and soul, to the most 
intense and painful meditation, she, roaming carelessly 
through life with no thought of the shadows in her path, 
or the silent flight of the raven-winged hours, Berenice! 
I call upon her name, Berenice! and from the gray ruins 
of memory a thousand tumultuous recollections are 


startled at the sound ! Ah, vividly is her image before 
me now, as in the early days of her light-heartedness and 
joy! O gorgeous, yet fantastic beauty! O sylph amid 
the shrubberies of Arnheim ! O Naiad among its 
fountains ! And then, then all is mystery and terror, and 
a tale which should not be told. Disease, a fatal dis- 
ease, fell like the simoom upon her frame; and even 
while I gazed upon her, the spirit of change swept over 
her, pervading her mind, her habits, and her character, 
and in a manner the most subtle and terrible, disturbing 
even the identity of her person ! Alas ! the destroyer came 
and went! and the victim, where was she? I knew her 
not, or knew her no longer as Berenice ! 

Among the numerous train of maladies superinduced 
by that fatal and primary one which effected a revolution 
of so horrible a kind in the moral and physical being of 
my cousin, may be mentioned as the most distressing and 
obstinate in its nature, a species of epilepsy not infre- 
quently terminating in trance itself — trance very nearly 
resembling positive dissolution, and from which her 
manner of recovery was, in most instances, startlingly 
abrupt. In the meantime, my own disease — for I have 
been told that I should call it by no other appellation — 
my own disease, then, grew rapidly upon me, and assumed 
finally a monomaniac character of a novel and extra- 
ordinary form — hourly and momently gaining vigor — 
and at length obtaining over me the most incompre- 
hensible ascendency. This monomania, if I must so 
term it, consisted in a morbid irritability of those prop- 
erties of the mind in metaphysical science termed the 
attentive. It is more than probable that I am not under- 
stood; but I fear, indeed, that it is in no manner possible 
to convey to the mind of the merely general reader an 
adequate idea of that nervous intensity of interest with 
which, in my case, the powers of meditation (not to speak 
technically) busied and buried themselves, in the con- 



templation of even the most ordinary objects of the 

To muse for long unwearied hours, with my attention 
riveted to some frivolous device on the margin or in 
the typography of a book; to become absorbed, for the 
better part of a summer’s day, in a quaint shadow falling 
aslant upon the tapestry or upon the floor ; to lose myself, 
for an entire night, in watching the steady flames of a 
lamp, or the embers of a fire; to dream away whole days 
over the perfume of a flower; to repeat monotonously 
some common word, until the sound, by dint of frequent 
repetition, ceased to convey any idea whatever to the 
mind; to lose all sense of motion or physical existence, 
by means of absolute bodily quiescence long and ob- 
stinately persevered in: such were a few of the most 
common and least pernicious vagaries induced hy a con- 
dition of the mental faculties, not, indeed, altogether 
unparalleled, but certainly bidding defiance to anything 
like analysis or explanation. 

Yet let me not be misapprehended. The undue, earnest, 
and morbid attention thus excited by objects in their 
own nature frivolous, must not be confounded in character 
with that ruminating propensity common to all mankind, 
and more especially indulged in by persons of ardent 
imagination. It was not even, as might be at first sup- 
posed, an extreme condition, or exaggeration of such 
propensity, but primarily and essentially distinct and 
different. In the one instance, the dreamer or enthusiast, 
being interested by an object usually not frivolous, im- 
perceptibly loses sight of this object in a wilderness of 
deductions and suggestions issuing therefrom, until at the 
conclusion of a day-dream often replete with luxury , he 
finds the incitamentum , or first cause of his musings, 
entirely vanished and forgotten. In my case, the primary 
object was invariably frivolous, although assuming, 
through the medium of my distempered vision, a refracted 


and unreal importance. Few deductions, if any, were 
made; and those few pertinaciously returning in upon 
the original object as a center. The meditations were 
never pleasurable ; and, at the termination of the reverie, 
the first cause, so far from being out of sight, had attained 
that supernaturally exaggerated interest which was the 
prevailing feature of the disease. In a word, the powers 
of mind more particularly exercised were, with me, as I 
have said before, the attentive , and are with the day- 
dreamer, the speculative. 

My books, at this epoch, if they did not actually serve 
to irritate the disorder, partook, it will be perceived, 
largely, in their imaginative and inconsequential nature, 
of the characteristic qualities of the disorder itself. I 
well remember, among others, the treatise of the noble 
Italian, Coelius Secundus Curio, “De Amplitudine Beati 
Regni Dei St. Austin’s great work, ‘The City of God 
and Tertullian’s “De Came Chris ti ” in which the para- 
doxical sentence, “Mortuus est Dei filius ; credibile est 
quia ineptum est ; et sepultus resurrexit ; certum est quia 
impossibile est” occupied my undivided time for many 
weeks of laborious and fruitless investigation. 

Thus it will appear that, shaken from its balance only 
by trivial things, my reason bore resemblance to that 
ocean crag spoken of by Ptolemy Hephaestion, which 
steadily resisting the attacks of human violence, and the 
fiercer fury of the waters and the winds, trembled only 
to the touch of the flower called Asphodel. And al- 
though to a careless thinker it might appear a matter 
beyond doubt, that the alteration produced by her un- 
happy malady, in the moral condition of Berenice, would 
afford me many objects for the exercise of that intense 
and abnormal meditation whose nature I have been at 
some trouble in explaining, yet such was not in any degree 
the case. In the lucid intervals of my infirmity, her calam- 
ity, indeed, gave me pain, and, taking deeply to heart 



that total wreck of her fair and gentle life, I did not fail to 
ponder frequently and bitterly upon the wonder-working 
means by which so strange a revolution had been so 
suddenly brought to pass. But these reflections partook 
not of the idiosyncrasy of my disease, and were such as 
would have occurred under similar circumstances to the 
ordinary mass of mankind. True to its own character, 
my disorder reveled in the less important but more start- 
ling changes wrought in the physical frame of Berenice 
— in the singular and most appalling distortion of her 
personal identity. 

During the brightest days of her unparalleled beauty, 
most surely I had never loved her. In the strange 
anomaly of her existence, feelings with me had never 
been of the heart, and my passions always were of the 
mind. Through the gray of the early morning, among 
the trellised shadows of the forest at noonday, and in 
the silence of my library at night, she had flitted by my 
eyes, and I had seen her, not as the living and breathing 
Berenice, but as the Berenice of a dream; not as a 
being of the earth, earthy, but as the abstraction of such 
a being; not as a thing to admire, but to analyze; not 
as an object of love, but as the theme of the most abstruse 
although desultory speculation. And novo — now I shud- 
dered in her presence, and grew pale at her approach; 
yet, bitterly lamenting her fallen and desolate condition, 
I called to mind that she had loved me long, and, in an 
evil moment, I spoke to her of marriage. 

And at length the period of our nuptials was approach- 
ing, when, upon an afternoon in the winter of the year 
— one of these unseasonably warm, calm, and misty days 
which are the nurse of the beautiful Halcyon— I sat (and 
sat, as I thought, alone) in the inner apartment of the 
library. But, uplifting my eyes, I saw that Berenice 
stood before me. 

Was it my own excited imagination — or the misty in- 


fluence of the atmosphere — or the uncertain twilight of 
the chamber — or the gray draperies which fell around 
her figure — that caused in it so vacillating and indistinct 
an outline ? I could not tell. She spoke no word ; and I 
— not for worlds could I have uttered a syllable. An icy 
chill ran through my frame; a sense of insufferable 
anxiety oppressed me; a consuming curiosity pervaded 
my soul; and, sinking back upon the chair, I remained 
for some time breathless and motionless, with my eyes 
riveted upon her person. Alas ! its emaciation was ex- 
cessive, and not one vestige of the former being lurked 
in any single line of the contour. My burning glances 
at length fell upon the face. 

The forehead was high, and very pale, and singularly 
placid; and the once jetty hair fell partially over it, and 
overshadowed the hollow temples with innumerable ring- 
lets, now of a vivid yellow, and jarring discordantly, in 
their fantastic character, with the reigning melancholy 
of the countenance. The eyes were lifeless, and lusterless, 
and seemingly pupilless, and I shrank involuntarily from 
their glassy stare to the contemplation of the thin and 
shrunken lips. They parted ; and in a smile of peculiar 
meaning, the teeth of the changed Berenice disclosed 
themselves slowly to my view. Would to God that I 
had never beheld them, or that, having done so, I had 
died ! 


The shutting of the door disturbed me, and, looking 
up, I found that my cousin had departed from the 
chamber. But from the disordered chamber of my brain 
had not, alas! departed, and would not be driven away, 
the white and ghastly spectrum of the teeth. Not a 
speck on their surface, not a shade on their enamel, not 
an indenture in their edges, but what that brief period 
of her smile had sufficed to brand it upon my memory. 
I saw them now even more unequivocally than I beheld 



them then . The teeth ! — the teeth ! — they were here, 
and there, and everywhere, and visibly and palpably 
before me ; long, narrow, and excessively white, with the 
pale lips writhing about them, as in the very moment of 
their first terrible development. Then came the full fury 
1 of my monomania , and I struggled in vain against its 
strange and irresistible influence. In the multiplied ob- 
jects of the external world I had no thoughts but for the 
teeth. For these I longed with a frenzied desire. All 
other matters and all different interests became absorbed 
in their single contemplation. They — they alone were 
present to the mental eye, and they, in their sole individ- 
uality became the essence of my mental life. I held them 
in every light. I turned them in every attitude. I sur- 
veyed their characteristics. I dwelt upon their peculi- 
arities. I pondered upon their conformation. I mused 
upon the alteration in their nature. I shuddered as I 
assigned to them, in imagination, a sensitive and sentient 
power, and, even when unassisted by the lips, a capability 
of moral expression. Of Mademoiselle Salle it has been 
well said, “Que tons ses pas etaient des sentiments,” and 
of Berenice I more seriously believed que tons ses dents 
etaient des idees. Des idees! — ah, here was the idiotic 
thought that destroyed me? Des idees — ah, therefore 
it was that I coveted them so madly! I felt that their 
possession could alone ever restore me to peace, in giving 
me back to reason. 

And the evening closed in upon me thus — and then 
the darkness came, and tarried, and went — and the day 
again dawned — and the mists of a second night were 
now gathering around — and still I sat motionless in that 
solitary room — and still I sat buried in meditation — and 
still the phantasma of the teeth maintained its terrible 
ascendency, as with the most vivid and hideous distinct- 
ness, it floated about amid the changing lights and shadows 
of the chamber. At length there broke in upon my dreams 


a cry as of horror and dismay; and thereunto, after a 
pause, succeeded the sound of troubled voices, inter- 
mingled with many low moanings of sorrow or of pain. 
I arose from my seat, and throwing open one of the 
doors of the library, saw standing out in the antechamber 
a servant maiden, all in tears, who told me that Berenice 
was no more ! She had been seized with epilepsy in the 
early morning, and now, at the closing in of the night, 
the grave was ready for its tenant, and all the preparations 
for the burial were completed. 

sji >j: ^ s}: 

I found myself sitting in the library, and again sitting 
there alone. It seemed that I had newly awakened from 
a confused and exciting dream. I knew that it was now 
midnight, and I was well aware that since the setting of 
the sun Berenice had been interred. But of that dreary 
period which intervened I had no positive, at least no 
definite, comprehension. Yet its memory was replete 
with horror — horror more horrible from being vague, 
and terror more terrible from ambiguity. It was a fear- 
ful page in the record of my existence, written all over 
with dim, and hideous, and unintelligible recollections. I 
strived to decipher them, but in vain; while ever and 
anon, like the spirit of a departed sound, the shrill and 
piercing shriek of a female voice seemed to be ringing 
in my ears. I had done a deed — what was it? I asked 
myself the question aloud, and the whispering echoes of 
the chamber answered me — “What was it ?” 

On the table beside me burned a lamp, and near it 
lay a little box. It was of no remarkable character, 
and I had seen it frequently before, for it was the 
property of the family physician; but how came it there 
upon my table, and why did I shudder in regarding it? 
These things were in no manner to be accounted for, and 
my eyes at length dropped to the open pages of a book, 
and to a sentence underscored therein. The words were 



the singular but simple ones of the poet Ebn Zaiat: — 
curas meas aliquantulum fore levatas.” 

There came a light tap at the library door — and, pale 
as the tenant of a tomb, a menial entered upon tiptoe. 
His looks were wild with terror, and he spoke to me 
in a voice tremulous, husky, and very low. What said 
he? — some broken sentences I heard. He told of a wild 
cry disturbing the silence of the night — of the gathering 
together of the household — of a search in the direction of 
the sound; and then his tones grew thrillingly distinct 
as he whispered to me of a violated grave — of a dis- 
figured body enshrouded, yet still breathing — still palpi- 
tating — still alive ! 

He pointed to my garments; they were muddy and 
clotted with gore. I spoke not, and he took me gently 
by the hand ; it was indented with the impress of human 
nails. He directed my attention to some object against 
the wall. I looked at it for some minutes: it was a 
spade. With a shriek I bounded to the table and grasped 
the box that lay upon it. But I could not force it open; 
and, in my tremor, it slipped from my hands, and fell 
heavily, and burst into pieces ; and from it, with a rattling 
sound, there rolled out some instruments of dental 
surgery, intermingled with thirty-two small, white and 
ivory-looking substances that were scattered to and fro 
about the floor. 


I am come of a race noted for vigor of fancy and 
ardor of passion. Men have called me mad, but the 

question is not yet settled whether madness is or is not 
the loftiest intelligence, whether much that is glorious, 
whether all that is profound, does not spring from dis- 


ease of thought, from moods of mind exalted at the 
expense of the general intellect. They who dream by 
day are cognizant of many things which escape those who 
dream only by night. In their gray visions they obtain 
glimpses of eternity, and thrill, in waking, to find that 
they have been upon the verge of the great secret. In 
snatches they learn something of the wisdom which is 
of good, and more of the mere knowledge which is of 
evil. They penetrate, however rudderless or compassless, 
into the vast ocean of the ‘Tight ineffable,” and again, 
like the adventures of the Nubian geographer, “agressi 
sunt mare tenebrarum , quid in eo esset exploraturi” 

We will say, then, that I am mad. I grant, at least, 
that there are two distinct conditions of my mental ex- 
istence, the condition of a lucid reason not to be disputed, 
and belonging to the memory of events forming the 
first epoch of my life, and a condition of shadow and 
doubt, appertaining to the present, and to the recollection 
of what constitutes the second great era of my being. 
Therefore, what I shall tell of the earlier period, believe; 
and to what I may relate of the later time give only such 
credit as may seem due; or doubt it altogether; or, if 
doubt it ye cannot, then play unto its riddle the CEdipus. 

She whom I loved in youth, and of whom I now pen 
calmly and distinctly these remembrances, was the sole 
daughter of the only sister of my mother long departed. 
Eleonora was the name of my cousin. We had always 
dwelt together, beneath a tropical sun, in the Valley of 
the Many-Colored Grass. No unguided footstep ever 
came upon that vale, for it lay far away up among a 
range of giant hills that hung beetling around about it, 
shutting out the sunlight from its sweetest recesses. No 
path was trodden in its vicinity; and to reach our happy 
home there was need of putting back with force the 
foliage of many thousands of forest trees, and of crush- 
ing to death the glories of many millions of fragrant 



flowers. Thus it was that we lived all alone, knowing 
nothing of the world without the valley, — I, and my 
cousin, and her mother. 

From the dim regions beyond the mountains at the 
upper end of our encircled domain, there crept out a 
narrow and deep river, brighter than all save the eyes 
of Eleonora ; and winding stealthily about in mazy courses, 
it passed away at length through a shadowy gorge, among 
hills still dimmer than those whence it had issued. We 
called it the “River of Silence/' for there seemed to 
be a hushing influence in its flow. No murmur arose 
from its bed, and so gently it wandered along that the 
pearly pebbles upon which we loved to gaze, far down 
within its bosom, stirred not at all, but lay in a motionless 
content, each in its own old station, shining on gloriously 

The margin of the river, and of the many dazzling 
rivulets that glided through devious ways into its channel, 
as well as the spaces that extended from the margins 
away down into the depths of the streams until they 
reached the bed of pebbles at the bottom, these spots, 
not less than the whole surface of the valley, from the 
river to the mountains that girdled it in, were carpeted 
all by a soft green grass, thick, short, perfectly even, and 
vanilla-perfumed, but so besprinkled throughout with 
the yellow buttercup, the white daisy, the purple violet, 
and the ruby-red asphodel, that its exceeding beauty 
spoke to our hearts in loud tones of the love and of 
the glory of God. 

And here and there, in groves about this grass, like 
wildernesses of dreams, sprang up fantastic trees, whose 
tall slender stems stood not upright, but slanted grace- 
fully towards the light that peered at noonday into the 
center of the valley. Their bark was speckled with the 
vivid alternate splendor of ebony and silver, and was 
smoother than all save the cheeks of Eleonora; so that 


but for the brilliant green of the huge leaves that spread 
from their summits in long tremulous lines, dallying with 
the zephyrs, one might have fancied them giant serpents 
of Syria doing homage to their sovereign the sun. 

Hand in hand about this valley, for fifteen years, 
roamed I with Eleonora before love entered within our 
hearts. It was one evening at the close of the third 
lustrum of her life, and of the fourth of my own, that 
we sat locked in each other’s embrace, beneath the serpent- 
like trees, and looking down within the waters of the 
River of Silence at our images therein. We spoke no 
words during the rest of that sweet day, and our words 
even upon the morrow were tremulous and few. We 
had drawn the god Eros from that wave, and now we 
felt that he had enkindled within us the fiery souls of 
our forefathers. The passions which had for centuries 
distinguished our race came thronging with the fancies 
for which they had been equally noted, and together 
breathed a delirious bliss over the Valley of the Many- 
Colored Grass. A change fell upon all things. Strange, 
brilliant flowers, star-shaped, burst out upon the trees 
where no flowers had been known before. The tints 
of the green carpet deepened, and when, one by one, 
the white daisies shrank away, there sprang up, in place 
of them, ten by ten of the ruby-red asphodel. And life 
arose in our paths, for the tall flamingo, hitherto unseen, 
with all gay glowing birds, flaunted his scarlet plumage 
before us. The golden and silver fish haunted the river, 
out of the bosom of which issued, little by little, a murmur 
that swelled at length into a lulling melody more divine 
than that of the harp of iEolus, sweeter than all save 
the voice of Eleonora. And now, too, a voluminous cloud, 
which we had long watched in the regions of Hesper, 
floated out thence, all gorgeous in crimson and gold, and 
settling in peace above us, sank day by day lower and 
lower until its edges rested upon the tops of the 



mountains, turning all their dimness into magnificence, 
and shutting us up as if forever, within a magic prison- 
house of grandeur and of glory. 

The loveliness of Eleonora was that of the Seraphim; 
but she was a maiden artless and innocent as the brief 
1 life she had led among the flowers. No guile disguised 
the fervor of love which animated her heart, and she 
examined with me its inmost recesses as we walked to- 
gether in the Valley of the Many-Colored Grass, and 
discoursed of the mighty changes which had lately taken 
place therein. 

At length, having spoken one day, in tears, of the last 
sad change which must befall humanity, she thence- 
forward dwelt only upon this one sorrowful theme, inter- 
weaving it into all our converse, as, in the songs of the 
bard of Schiraz, the same images are found occurring 
again and again in every impressive variation of phrase. 

She had seen that the finger of Death was upon her 
bosom — that, like the ephemeron, she had been made 
perfect in loveliness only to die; but the terrors of the 
grave to her lay solely in a consideration which she re- 
vealed to me one evening at twilight by the banks of the 
River of Silence. She grieved to think that, having 
entombed her in the Valley of the Many-Colored Grass, 
I would quit forever its happy recesses, transferring the 
love which now was so passionately her own to some maid- 
en of the outer and every-day world. And then and there 
I threw myself hurriedly at the feet of Eleonora, and 
offered up a vow to herself and to Heaven, that I would 
never bind myself in marriage to any daughter of Earth 
— that I would in no manner prove recreant to her dear 
memory, or to the memory of the devout affection with 
which she had blessed me. And I called the Mighty 
Ruler of the Universe to witness the pious solemnity of 
my vow. And the curse which I invoked of Him and of 
her, a saint in Elusion, should I prove traitorous to that 


promise, involved a penalty the exceeding great horror 
of which will not permit me to make record of it here. 
And the bright eyes of Eleonora grew brighter at my 
words; and she sighed as if a deadly burthen had been 
taken from her breast; and she trembled and very bitterly 
wept; but she made acceptance of the vow (for what 
was she but a child?) and it made easy to her the bed 
of her death. And she said to me, not many days after- 
wards, tranquilly dying, that, because of what I had 
done for the comfort of her spirit, she would watch over 
me in that spirit when departed, and, if so it were 
permitted her, return to me visibly in the watches of 
the night; but, if this thing were indeed beyond the power 
of the souls in Paradise, that she would at least give me 
frequent indications of her presence; sighing upon me 
in the evening winds, or filling the air which I breathed 
with perfume from the censers of the angels. And, with 
these words upon her lips, she yielded up her innocent 
life, putting an end to the first epoch of my own. 

Thus far I have faithfully said. But as I pass the 
barrier in Time's path, formed by the death of my be- 
loved, and proceed with the second era of my existence, 
I feel that a shadow gathers over my brain, and I mis- 
trust the perfect sanity of the record. But let me on. — 
Years dragged themselves along heavily, and still I 
dwelled within the Valley of the Many-Colored Grass; 
but a second change had come upon all things. The 
star-shaped flowers shrank into the stems of the trees, and 
appeared no more. The tints of the green carpet faded ; 
and, one by one, the ruby-red asphodels withered away; 
and there sprang up, in place of them, ten by ten, dark, 
eye-like violets, that writhed uneasily and were ever 
encumbered with dew. And Life departed from our 
paths ; for the tall flamingo flaunted no longer his scarlet 
plumage before us, but flew sadly from the vale into the 
hills, with all the gay glowing birds that had arrived 



in his company. And the golden, and silver fish swam 
down through the gorge at the lower end of our domain 
and bedecked the sweet river never again. And the 
lulling melody that had been softer than the wind-harp 
of yEolus, and more divine than all save the voice of 
Eleonora, it died little by little away, in murmurs growing 
lower and lower, until the stream returned, at length, 
utterly, into the solemnity of its original silence; and 
then, lastly, the voluminous cloud uprose, and abandoning 
the tops of the mountains to the dimness of old, fell back 
into the regions of Hesper, and took away all its manifold 
golden and gorgeous glories from the Valley of the Many- 
Colored Grass. 

Yet the promises of Eleonora were not forgotten; for 
I heard the sounds of the swinging of the censers of the 
angels ; and streams of the holy perfume floated ever and 
ever about the valley ; and at lone hours, when my heart 
beat heavily, the winds that bathed my brow came unto 
me laden with soft sighs ; and indistinct murmurs filled 
often the night air ; and once — oh, but once only ! — I was 
awakened from a slumber, like the slumber of death, 
by the pressing of spiritual lips upon my own. 

But the void within my heart refused, even thus, to 
be filled. I longed for the love which had before filled 
it to overflowing. At length the valley pained me 
through its memories of Eleonora, and I left it forever 
for the vanities and the turbulent triumphs of the world. 
* * * * * * 

I found myself within a strange city, where all things 
might have served to blot from recollection the sweet 
dreams I had dreamed so long in the Valley of the Many- 
Colored Grass. The pomps and pageantries of a stately 
court, and the mad clangor of arms, and the radiant 
loveliness of woman, bewildered and intoxicated my brain. 
But as yet my soul had proved true to its vows, and the 
indications of the presence of Eleonora were still given 


me in the silent hours of the night. Suddenly, these 
manifestations ceased; and the world grew dark before 
mine eyes; and I stood aghast at the burning thoughts 
which possessed — at the terrible temptations which beset 
me; for there came from some far, far distant unknown 
land, into the gay court of the king I served, a maiden 
to whose beauty my whole recreant heart yielded at once 
— at whose footstool I bowed down without a struggle, 
in the most ardent, in the most abject worship of love. 
What indeed was my passion for the young girl of the 
valley in comparison with the fervor and the delirium, 
and the spirit-lifting ecstasy of adoration with which I 
poured out my whole soul in tears at the feet of the 
ethereal Ermengarde ? — Oh, bright was the seraph 
Ermengarde ! and in that knowledge I had room for none 
other. — Oh, divine was the angel Ermengarde ! and as 
I looked down into the depths of her memorial eyes, 
I thought only of them — and of her. 

I wedded ; — nor dreaded the curse I had invoked ; and 
its bitterness was not visited upon me. And once — but 
once again in the silence of the night, there came through 
my lattice the soft sighs which had forsaken me; and 
they modeled themselves into familiar and sweet voice, 
saying — 

“Sleep in peace! — for the Spirit of Love reigneth and 
ruleth, and, in taking to thy passionate heart her who 
is Ermengarde thou art absolved, for reasons which shall 
be made known to thee in Heaven, of thy vows unto 


I cannot, for my soul, remember how, when, or even 
precisely where, I first became acquainted with the lady 
Ligeia. Long years have since elapsed, and my memory 



is feeble through much suffering. Or, perhaps, I cannot 
now bring these points to mind, because, in truth, the 
character of my beloved, her rare learning, her singu- 
lar yet placid caste of beauty, and the thrilling and 
enthralling eloquence of her low musical language, 

1 made their way into my heart, by paces so steadily and 
stealthily progressive, that they have been unnoticed and 
! unknown. Yet I believe that I met her first and most 
frequently in some large, old, decaying city near the 
Rhine. Of her family I have surely heard her speak, 
j That it is of a remotely ancient date cannot be doubted. 
Ligeia ! Ligeia ! Buried in studies of a nature more than 
all else adapted to deaden impressions of the outward 
world, it is by that sweet word alone, by Ligeia, that I 
bring before mine eyes in fancy the image of her who 
is no more. And now, while I write, a recollection 
flashes upon me that I have never knozvn the paternal 
name of her who was my friend and my betrothed, and 
| who became the partner of my studies, and finally the 
wife of my bosom. Was it playful charge on the part 
; of my Ligeia? or was it a test of my strength of affec- 
| tion, that I should institute no inquiries upon this point? 
or was it rather a caprice of my own, a wildly romantic 
offering on the shrine of the most passionate devotion? 
I but indistinctly recall the fact itself, what wonder that I 
have utterly forgotten the circumstances which originated 
or attended it? And indeed if ever that spirit which is 
entitled Romance , if ever she, the wan and the misty- 
winged Ashtophet of idolatrous Egypt, presided, as they 
tell, over marriages ill-omened, then most surely she pre- 
sided over mine. 

There is one dear topic, however, on which my memory 
fails me not. It is the person of Ligeia. In stature she 
was tall, somewhat slender, and in her latter days, even 
emaciated. I would in vain attempt to portray the maj- 
esty, the quiet ease of her demeanor, or the incomprehen- 


sible lightness and elasticity of her footfall. She came 
and departed as a shadow. I was never made aware of her 
entrance into my closed study, save by the dear music of 
her low sweet voice, as she placed her marble hand upon 
my shoulder. In beauty of face no maiden ever equaled 
her. It was the radiance of an opium dream, an airy and 
spirit-lifting vision more wildly divine than the phantasies 
which hovered about the slumbering souls of the daugh- 
ters of Delos. Yet her features were not of that regular 
mold which we have been falsely taught to worship in the 
classical labors of the heathen. “There is no exquisite 
beauty,” says Bacon, Lord Verulam, speaking truly of 
all the forms and genera of beauty, “without some 
strangeness in the proportion.” Yet, although I saw 
that the features of Ligeia were not of a classic regu- 
larity, although I perceived that her loveliness was in- 
deed “exquisite,” and felt that there was much of 
“strangeness” pervading it, yet I have tried in vain to 
detect the irregularity and to trace home my own percep- 
tion of “the strange.” I examined the contour of the 
lofty and pale forehead — it was faultless ; how cold indeed 
that word when applied to a majesty so divine! the skin 
rivaling the purest ivory, the commanding extent and 
repose, the gentle prominence of the regions above the 
temples ; and then the raven-black, the glossy, the luxuri- 
ant and naturally-curling tresses, setting forth the full 
force of the Homeric epithet, “hyacinthine” ! I looked 
at the delicate outlines of the nose, and nowhere but in 
the graceful medallions of the Hebrews had I beheld a 
similar perfection. There were the same luxurious 
smoothness of surface, the same scarcely perceptible 
tendency to the aquiline, the same harmoniously curved 
nostrils speaking the free spirit. I regarded the sweet 
mouth. Here was indeed the triumph of all things 
heavenly, the magnificent turn of the short upper lip, 
the soft, voluptuous slumber of the under, the dimples 


| which sported, and the color which spoke, the teeth glanc- 
ing back, with a brilliancy almost startling, every ray of 
the holy light which fell upon them in her serene and 
placid, yet most exultingly radiant of all smiles. I scruti- 
nized the formation of the chin — and here, too, I found 
; the gentleness of breadth, the softness and the majesty, 

1 the fulness and the spirituality of the Greek — the con- 
tour which the god Apollo revealed but in a dream to 
Cleomenes, the son of the Athenian. And then I peered 
i into the large eyes of Ligeia. 

For eyes we have no models in the remotely antique. 
It might have been, tog, that in these eyes of my beloved 
lay the secret to which Lord Verulam alludes. They were, 
I must believe, far larger than the ordinary eyes of our 
own race. They were even fuller than the fullest of the 
gazelle eyes of the tribe of the valley of Nourjahad. Yet 
it was only at intervals — in moments of intense excite- 
ment — that this peculiarity became more than slightly 
noticeable in Ligeia. And at such moments was her 
beauty — in my heated fancy thus it appeared perhaps — 
the beauty of beings either above or apart from the 
earth — the beauty of the fabulous Houri of the Turk. 
The hue of the orbs was the most brilliant of black, and 
far over them hung jetty lashes of great length. The 
brows, slightly irregular in outline, had the same tint. 
The “strangeness,” however, which I found in the eyes, 
was of a nature distinct from the formation, or the color, 
or the brilliancy of the features, and must, after all, be 
referred to the expression. Ah, word of no meaning! 
behind whose vast latitude of mere sound we intrench 
our ignorance of so much of the spiritual. The expres- 
sion of the eyes of Ligeia! How for long hours have I 
pondered upon it ! How have I through the whole of a 
midsummer night struggled to fathom it ! What was it — 
that something more profound than the well of Democ- 
ritus — which lay far within the pupils of my beloved? 


What was it? I was possessed with a passion to dis- 
cover. Those eyes ! those large, those shining, those 
divine orbs ! they became to me twin stars of Leda, and 
I to them devoutest of astrologers. 

There is no point among the many incomprehensible 
anomalies of the science of mind more thrillingly ex- 
citing than the fact — never, I believe, noticed in the 
schools — that in our endeavors to recall to memory 
something long forgotten, we often find ourselves upon 
the very verge of remembrance, without being able in 
the end to remember. And thus how frequently, in my in- 
tense scrutiny of Ligeia’s eyes, have I felt approaching the 
full knowledge of their expression — felt it approaching 
— yet not quite be mine — and so at length entirely depart ! 
And (strange, oh strangest mystery of all!) I found in 
the commonest objects of the universe a circle of analogies 
to that expression. I mean to say that, subsequently to 
the period when Ligeia’s beauty passed into my spirit, 
there dwelling as in a shrine, I derived, from many ex- 
istences in the material world, a sentiment such as I felt 
always around, within me, by her large and luminous 
orbs. Yet not the more could I define that sentiment, 
or analyze, or even steadily view it. I recognized it, let 
me repeat, sometimes in the survey of a rapidly-growing 
vine, in the contemplation of a moth, a butterfly, a 
chrysalis, a stream of running water. I have felt it in 
the ocean, in the falling of a meteor. I have felt it in 
the glances of unusually aged people. And there are 
one or two stars in heaven (one especially, a star of the 
sixth magnitude, double and changeable, to be found near 
the large star in Lyra) in a telescopic scrutiny of which 
I have been made aware of the feeling. I have been filled 
with it by certain sounds from stringed instruments, and 
not unfrequently by passages from books. Among in- 
numerable other instances, I well remember something in a 
volume of Joseph Glanvill, which (perhaps merely from 



its quaintness — who shall say?) never failed to inspire me 
with the sentiment: “And the will therein lieth, which 
dieth not. Who knoweth the mysteries of the will, with 
its vigor? For God is but a great will pervading all things 
by nature of its intentness. Man doth not yield him to 
the angels, nor unto death utterly, save only through the 
weakness of his feeble will.” 

Length of years and subsequent reflection have en- 
abled me to trace, indeed, some remote connection between 
this passage in the English moralist and a portion of the 
character of Ligeia. An intensity in thought, action, 
or speech was possibly in her a result, or at least an in- 
dex, of that gigantic volition which, during our long inter- 
course, failed to give other and more immediate evidence 
of its existence. Of all the women whom I have ever 
known, she, the outwardly calm, the ever-placid Ligeia, 
was the most violently a prey to the tumultuous vultures 
of stern passion. And of such passion I could form no 
estimate, save by the miraculous expansion of those eyes 
which at once so delighted and appalled me, by the almost 
magical melody, modulation, distinctness, and placidity 
of her very low voice, and by the fierce energy (rendered 
doubly effective by contrast with her manner of utter- 
ance) of the wild words which she habitually uttered. 

I have spoken of the learning of Ligeia: it was im- 
mense — such as I have never known in woman. In the 
classical tongues was she deeply proficient, and as far as 
my own acquaintance extended in regard to the modern 
dialects of Europe, I have never known her at fault. In- 
deed upon any theme of the most admired, because simply 
the most abstruse of the boasted erudition of the academy, 
have I ever found Ligeia at fault? How singularly, how 
thrillingly, this one point in the nature of my wife 
has forced itself, at this late period only, upon my atten- 
tion! I said her knowledge was such as I have never 
known in woman, but where breathes the man who has 


traversed, and successfully, all the wide areas of moral, 
physical, and mathematical science? I saw not then what 
I now clearly perceive, that the acquisitions of Ligeia 
were gigantic, were astounding; yet I was sufficiently 
aware of her infinite supremacy to resign myself, with a 
childlike confidence, to her guidance through the chaotic 
world of metaphysical investigation at which I was most 
busily occupied during the earlier years of our marriage. 
With how vast a triumph — with how vivid a delight — 
with how much of all that is ethereal in hope, did I feel, as 
she bent over me in studies but little sought — but less 
known — that delicious vista by slow degrees expanding be- 
fore me, down whose long gorgeous, and all untrodden 
path, I might at length pass onward to the goal of a 
wisdom too divinely precious not to be forbidden ! 

How poignant, then, must have been the grief with 
which, after some years, I beheld my well-grounded ex- 
pectations take wings to themselves and fly away ! With- 
out Ligeia I was but as a child groping benighted. Her 
presence, her readings alone, rendered vividly luminous 
the many mysteries of the transcendentalism in which 
we were immersed. Wanting the radiant luster of her 
eyes, letters, lambent and golden, grew duller than Saturn- 
ian lead. And now those eyes shone less and less fre- 
quently upon the pages over which I pored. Ligeia grew 
ill. The wild eyes blazed with a too — too glorious efful- 
gence ; the pale fingers became of the transparent waxen 
hue of the grave; and the blue veins upon the lofty fore- 
head swelled and sank impetuously with the tides of the 
most gentle emotion. I saw that she must die — and I 
struggled desperately in spirit with the grim Azrael. 
And the struggles of the passionate wife were, to my 
astonishment, even more energetic than my own. There 
had been much in her stern nature to impress me with 
the belief that, to her, death would have come without its 
terrors, but not so. Words are impotent to convey any 



just idea of the fierceness of resistance with which she 
wrestled with the Shadow. I groaned in anguish at the 
pitiable spectacle. I would have soothed, I would have 
reasoned ; but in the intensity of her wild desire for life 
— for life — but for life — solace and reason were alike the 
uttermost of folly. Yet not until the last instance, amid 
the most convulsive writhings of her fierce spirit, was 
shaken the external placidity of her demeanor. Her 
voice grew more gentle — grew more low — yet I would 
not wish to dwell upon the wild meaning of the quietly 
uttered words. My brain reeled as I hearkened, en- 
tranced, to a melody more than mortal — to assumptions 
and aspirations which mortality had never before known. 

That she loved me I should not have doubted; and 
I might have been easily aware that, in a bosom such as 
hers, love would have reigned no ordinary passion. But 
in death was I fully impressed with the strength of her 
affection. For long hours, detaining my hand, would she 
pour out before me the overflowing of a heart whose more 
than passionate devotion amounted to idolatry. How 
had I deserved to be so blessed by such confessions? — 
how had I deserved to be so cursed with the removal of 
my beloved in the hour of her making them? But upon 
this subject I cannot bear to dilate. Let me say only, 
that in Ligeia’s more than womanly abandonment to a 
love alas ! all unmerited, all unworthily bestowed, I at 
length recognized the principle of her longing, with so 
wildly earnest a desire, for the life which was now flee- 
ing so rapidly away. It is this wild longing — it is this 
eager vehemence of desire for life — but for life — that I 
have no power to portray — no utterance capable of ex- 

At high noon of the night in which she departed, 
beckoning me peremptorily to her side, she bade me 
repeat certain verses composed by herself not many days 
before. I obeyed her. They were these: — 


Lo! ’tis a gala night 
Within the lonesome latter years ! 

An angel throng, bewinged, bedight 
In veils, and drowned in tears, 

Sit in a theater, to see 
A play of hopes and fears, 

While the orchestra breathes fitfully 
The music of the spheres. 

Mimes, in the form of God on high, 

Mutter and mumble low, 

And hither and thither fly; 

Mere puppets they, who come and go 
At bidding of vast formless things 
That shift the scenery to and fro, 
Flapping from out their Condor wings 
Invisible Woe ! 

That motley drama ! — oh, be sure 
It shall not be forgot ! 

With its Phantom chased for evermore, 

By a crowd that seize it not, 

Through a circle that ever returneth in 
To the self-same spot; 

And much of Madness, and more of Sin 
And Horror, the soul of the plot! 

But see, amid the mimic rout 
A crawling shape intrude! 

A blood-red thing that writhes from out 
The scenic solitude ! 

It writhes ! — it writhes ! — with mortal pangs 
The mimes become its food, 

And the seraphs sob at vermin fangs 
In human gore imbued. 

Out — out are the lights — out all! 

And over each quivering form, 

The curtain, a funeral pall, 

Comes down with the rush of a storm — 
And the angels, all pallid and wan, 
Uprising, unveiling, affirm 
That the play is the tragedy, “Man,” 

And its hero, the Conqueror Worm. 



“O God!” half-shrieked Ligeia, leaping to her feet 
and extending her arms aloft with a spasmodic movement, 
as I made an end of these lines — “O God ! O Divine 
Father! shall these things be undeviatingly so? shall 
this conqueror be not once conquered? Are we not part 
and parcel in Thee? Who — who knoweth the mysteries 
of the will with its vigor ? Man doth not yield him to the 
angels, nor unto death utterly, save only through the 
weakness of his feeble will.” 

And now, as if exhausted with emotion, she suffered 
her white arms to fall, and returned solemnly to her bed 
of death. And as she breathed her last sighs there came 
mingled with them a low murmur from her lips. I bent 
to them my ear, and distinguished, again, the concluding 
words of the passage in Glanvill : — 1 “Man doth not yield 
him to the angels , nor unto death utterly, save only 
through the weakness of his feeble will” 

She died, and I, crushed into the very dust with sorrow, 
could no longer endure the lonely desolation of my dwell- 
ing in the dim and decaying city by the Rhine. I had no 
lack of what the world calls wealth. Ligeia had brought 
me far more, very far more, than ordinarily falls to the 
lot of mortals. After a few months therefore of weary 
and aimless wandering, I purchased, and put in some 
repair, an abbey, which I shall not name, in one of the 
wildest and least frequented portions of fair England. 
The gloomy and dreary grandeur of the building, the 
almost savage aspect of the domain, the many melancholy 
and time-honored memories connected with both, had 
much in unison with the feelings of utter abandonment 
which had driven me into that remote and unsocial region 
of the country. Yet, although the external abbey, with its 
verdant decay hanging about it, suffered but little al- 
teration, I gave way, with a childlike perversity, and per- 
chance with a faint hope of alleviating my sorrows, to a 
display of more than regal magnificence within. For 


such follies, even in childhood, I had imbibed a taste, 
and now they came back to me as if in the dotage of 
grief. Alas, I feel how much even of incipient madness 
might have been discovered in the gorgeous and fantastic 
draperies, in the solemn carvings of Egypt, in the wild 
cornices of furniture, in the Bedlam patterns of the car- 
pets of tufted gold ! I had become a bounden slave in the 
trammels of opium, and my labors and my orders had 
taken a coloring from my dreams. But these absurdities 
I must not pause to detail. Let me speak only of that one 
chamber, ever accursed, whither in a moment of mental 
alienation I led from the altar as my bride — as the suc- 
cessor of the unforgotten Ligeia — the fair-haired and 
blue-eyed Lady Rowena Trevanion of Tremaine. 

There is no individual portion of the architecture and 
decoration of that bridal chamber which is not now vis- 
ible before me. Where were the souls of the haughty 
family of the bride, when, through thirst of gold, they 
permitted to pass the threshold of an apartment so be- 
decked, a maiden and a daughter so beloved? I have 
said that I minutely remember the details of the chamber, 
yet I am sadly forgetful on topics of deep moment, and 
here there was no system, no keeping, in the fantastic 
display, to take hold upon the memory. The room lay in 
a high turret of the castellated abbey, was pentagonal 
in shape, and of capacious size. Occupying the whole 
southern face of the pentagon was the sole window, an 
immense sheet of unbroken glass from Venice, — a single 
pane, and tinted of a leaden hue, so that the rays of either 
the sun or moon passing through it fell with a ghastly 
luster on the objects within. Over the upper portion of 
this huge window extended the trelliswork of an aged 
vine which clambered up the massy walls of the turret. 
The ceiling, of gloomy-looking oak, was excessively 
lofty, vaulted, and elaborately fretted with the wildest 
and most grotesque specimens of a semi-Gothic, semi- 



Druidical device. From out the most central recess of 
this melancholy vaulting, depended by a single chain of 
gold with long links, a huge censer of the same metal, 
Saracenic in pattern, and with many perforations so 
contrived that there writhed in and out, as if indued 
with a serpent vitality, a continual succession of parti- 
colored fires. 

Some few ottomans and golden candelabra, of East- 
ern figure, were in various stations about, and there was 
the couch, too, the bridal couch, of an Indian model, 
and low, and sculptured of solid ebony, with a pall-like 
canopy above. In each of the angles of the chamber 
stood on end a gigantic sarcophagus of black granite, 
from the tombs of the kings over against Luxor, with 
their aged lids full of immemorial sculpture. But in 
the draping of the apartment lay, alas ! the chief phan- 
tasy of all. The lofty walls, gigantic in height, even 
unproportionably so, were hung from summit to foot in 
vast folds with a heavy and massive-looking tapestry — 
tapestry of a material which was found alike as a car- 
pet on the floor, as a covering for the ottomans and the 
ebony bed, as a canopy for the bed, and as the gorgeous 
volutes of the curtains which partially shaded the win- 
dow. The material was the richest cloth of gold. It was 
spotted all over, at irregular intervals, with arabesque 
figures about a foot in diameter, and wrought upon the 
cloth in patterns of the most jetty black. But these 
figures partook of the true character of the arabesque only 
when regarded from a single point of view. By a con- 
trivance now common, and indeed traceable to a very 
remote period of antiquity, they were made changeable 
in aspect. To one entering the room they bore the 
appearence of simple monstrosities, but upon a far- 
ther advance this appearance gradually departed, and, step 
by step, as the visitor moved his station in the chamber, 
he saw himself surrounded by an endless succession of 


the ghastly forms which belong to the superstition of 
the Norman, or arise in the guilty slumbers of the monk. 
The phantasmagoric effect was vastly heightened by the 
artificial introduction of a strong continual current of 
wind behind the draperies, giving a hideous and un- 
easy animation to the whole. 

In halls such as these, in a bridal chamber such as 
this, I passed with the Lady of Tremaine the unhallowed 
hours of the first month of our marriage, passed them 
with but little disquietude. That my wife dreaded the 
fierce moodiness of my temper, that she shunned me 
and loved me but little, I could not help perceiving, but 
it gave me rather pleasure than otherwise. I loathed her 
with a hatred belonging more to demon than to man. 
My memory flew back (oh with what intensity of regret !) 
to Ligeia, the beloved, the august, the beautiful, the en- 
tombed. I reveled in recollections of her purity, of 
her wisdom, of her lofty, her ethereal nature, of her 
passionate, her idolatrous love. Now, then, did my spirit 
fully and freely burn with more than all the fires of her 
own. In the excitement of my opium dreams (for I was 
habitually fettered in the shackles of the drug) I would 
call aloud upon her name during the silence of the night, 
or among the sheltered recesses of the glens by day, as 
if, through the wild eagerness, the solemn passion, the con- 
suming ardor of my longing for the departed, I could 
restore her to the pathway she had abandoned — ah, could 
it be forever? upon the earth. 

About the commencement of the second month of the 
marriage, the Lady Rowena was attacked with sudden 
illness, from which her recovery was slow. The fever 
which consumed her rendered her nights uneasy; and 
in her perturbed state of half -slumber she spoke of sounds 
and of motions in and about the chamber of the turret, 
which I concluded had no origin save in the distemper 
of her fancy, or perhaps in the phantasmagoric influences 



of the chamber itself. She became at length convalescent 
— finally, well. Yet but a brief period elapsed, ere a 
second more violent disorder again threw her upon a bed 
of suffering; and from this attack her frame, at all times 
feeble, never altogether recovered. Her illnesses were, 
after this epoch, of alarming character, and of more 
alarming recurrence, defying alike the knowledge and the 
great exertions of her physicians. With the increase of 
the chronic disease which had thus, apparently, taken 
too sure hold upon her constitution to be eradicated by 
human means, I could not fail to observe a similar in- 
crease in the nervous irritation of her temperament, and 
in her excitability by trivial causes of fear. She spoke 
again, and now more frequently and pertinaciously, of 
the sounds — of the slight sounds — and of the unusual 
motions among the tapestries, to which she had formerly 

One night near the closing in of September, she pressed 
this distressing subject with more than usual emphasis 
upon my attention. She had just awakened from an 
unquiet slumber, and I had been watching, with feelings 
half of anxiety, half of vague terror, the workings of her 
emaciated countenance. I sat by the side of her ebony 
bed, upon one of the ottomans of India. She partly arose, 
and spoke, in an earnest low whisper, of sounds which 
she then heard, but which I could not hear — of motions 
which she then saw, but which I could not perceive. The 
wind was rushing hurriedly behind the tapestries, and 
I wished to show her (what, let me confess it, I could not 
all believe) that those almost inarticulate breathings, and 
those very gentle variations of the figures upon the wall, 
were but the natural effects of that customary rushing of 
the wind. But a deadly pallor, overspreading her face, 
had proved to me that my exertions to reassure her 
would be fruitless. She appeared to be fainting, and no 
attendants were within call. I remembered where was 


deposited a decanter of light wine which had been or- 
dered by her physicians, and hastened across the cham- 
ber to procure it. But, as I stepped beneath the light 
of the censer, two circumstances of a startling nature 
attracted my attention. I felt that some palpable al- 
though invisible object had passed lightly by my person; 
and I saw that there lay upon the golden carpet, in the 
very middle of the rich luster thrown from the censer, 
a shadow — a faint, indefinite shadow of angelic aspect — 
such as might be fancied for the shadow of a shade. 
But I was wild with the excitement of an immoderate 
dose of opium, and heeded these things but little, nor 
spoke of them to Rowena. Having found the wine, I 
recrossed the chamber, and poured out a goblet-full, 
which I held to the lips of the fainting lady. She had 
now partially recovered, however, and took the vessel her- 
self, while I sank upon an ottoman near me, with my eyes 
fastened upon her person. It was then that I became 
distinctly aware of a gentle footfall upon the carpet, and 
near the couch; and in a second thereafter, as Rowena 
was in the act of raising the wine to her lips, I saw, or 
may have dreamed that I saw, fall within the goblet, as 
if from some invisible spring in the atmosphere of the 
room, three or four large drops of a brilliant and ruby 
colored fluid. If this I saw’ — not so Rowena. She swal- 
lowed the wine unhesitatingly, and I forbore to speak 
to her of a circumstance which must, after all I con- 
sidered, have been but the suggestion of a vivid imagina- 
tion, rendered morbidly active by the terror of the lady, 
by the opium, and by the hour. 

Yet I cannot conceal it from my own perception that, 
immediately subsequent to the fall of the ruby-drops, 
a rapid change for the worse took place in the disorder 
of my wife; so that on the third subsequent night, the 
hands of her menials prepared her for the tomb, and on 
the fourth I sat alone, with her shrouded body, in that 



fantastic chamber which had received her as my bride. — 
Wild visions, opium-engendered, flitted, shadow-like, be- 
fore me. I gazed with unquiet eye upon the sarco- 
phagi in the angles of the room, upon the varying figures 
of the drapery, and upon the writhing of the parti-colored 
fires in the censer overhead. My eyes then fell, as I 
called to mind the circumstances of a former night, to the 
spot beneath the glare of the censer, where 7 had seen the 
faint traces of the shadow. It was there, however, no 
longer ; and breathing with greater freedom, I turned my 
glances to the pallid and rigid figure upon the bed. 
Then rushed upon me a thousand memories of Ligeia, 
and then came back upon my heart, with the turbulent 
violence of a flood, the whole of that unutterable woe 
with which I had regarded her thus enshrouded. The 
night waned ; and still, with a bosom full of bitter thoughts 
of the one only and supremely beloved, I remained 
gazing upon the body of Rowena. 

It might have been midnight, or perhaps earlier, or 
later, for I had taken no note of time, when a sob, low, 
gentle, but very distinct, startled me from my reverie. 
I felt that it came from the bed of ebony — the bed of 
death. I listened in an agony of superstitious terror — 
but there was no repetition of the sound. I strained my 
vision to detect any motion in the corpse, but there was 
not the slightest perceptible. Yet I could not have been 
deceived. I had heard the noise, however faint, and my 
soul was awakened within me. I resolutely and perse- 
veringly kept my attention riveted upon the body. Many 
minutes elapsed before any circumstance occurred tend- 
ing to throw light upon the mystery. At length it 
became evident that a slight, a very feeble, and barely 
noticeable tinge of color had flushed up within the cheeks, 
and along the sunken small veins of the eyelids. Through 
a species of unutterable horror and awe, for which the 
language of mortality has no sufficiently energetic expres- 


sion, I felt my heart cease to beat, my limbs grow rigid 
where I sat. Yet a sense of duty finally operated to re- 
store my self-possession. I could no longer doubt that we 
had been precipitate in our preparations — that Rowena 
still lived. It was necessary that some immediate ex- 
ertion be made; yet the turret was altogether apart 
from the portion of the abbey tenanted by the servants 
— there were none within call — I had no means of sum- 
moning them to my aid without leaving the room for 
many minutes — and this I could not venture to do. I 
therefore struggled alone in my endeavors to call back 
the spirit still hovering. In a short period it was certain, 
however, that a relapse had taken place; the color dis- 
appeared from both eyelid and cheek, leaving a wanness 
even more than that of marble; the lips became doubly 
shriveled and pinched up in the ghastly expression of 
death; a repulsive clamminess and coldness overspread 
rapidly the. surface of the body; and all the usual rigorous 
stiffness immediately supervened. I fell back with a 
shudder upon the couch from which I had been so start- 
lingly aroused, and again gave myself up to passionate 
waking visions of Ligeia. 

An hour thus elapsed, when (could it be possible?) I 
was a second time aware of some vague sound issuing 
from the region of the bed. I listened — in extremity of 
horror. The sound came again — it was a sigh. Rush- 
ing to the corpse, I saw — distinctly saw — a tremor upon 
the lips. In a minute afterwards they relaxed, disclosing 
a bright line of the pearly teeth. Amazement now 
struggled in my bosom with the profound awe which had 
hitherto reigned there alone. I felt that my vision grew 
dim, that my reason wandered; and it was only by a 
violent effort that I at length succeeded in nerving my- 
self to the task which duty thus once more had pointed 
out. There was now a partial glow upon the forehead 
and upon the cheek and throat; a perceptible warmth 



pervaded the whole frame; there was even a slight pulsa- 
tion at the heart. The lady lived; and with redoubled 
ardor I betook myself to the task of restoration. I 
chafed and bathed the temples and the hands, and used 
every exertion which experience, and no little medical 
reading, could suggest. But in vain. Suddenly the color 
fled, the pulsation ceased, the lips resumed the expression 
of the dead, and, in an instant afterwards, the whole 
body took upon itself the icy chilliness, the livid hue, the 
intense rigidity, the sunken outline, and all the loath- 
some peculiarities of that which has been for many days 
a tenant of the tomb. 

And again I sank into visions of Ligeia — and again 
(what marvel that I shudder while I write !) — again there 
reached my ears a low sob from the region of the ebony 
bed. But why shall I minutely detail the unspeakable hor- 
rors of that night ? Why shall I pause to relate how, time 
after time, until near the period of the gray dawn, this 
hideous drama of revivification was repeated; how each 
terrific relapse was only into a sterner and apparently 
more irredeemable death ; how each agony wore the 
aspect of a struggle with some invisible foe; and how each 
struggle was succeeded by I know not what of wild 
change in the personal appearance of the corpse? Let 
me hurry to a conclusion. 

The greater part of the fearful night had worn away, 
and she who had been dead, once again stirred — and 
now more vigorously than hitherto, although arousing 
from a dissolution more appalling in its utter hopeless- 
ness than any. I had long ceased to struggle or to move, 
and remained sitting rigidly upon the ottoman, a help- 
less prey to a whirl of violent emotions, of which extreme 
awe was perhaps the least terrible, the least consuming. 
The corpse, I repeat, stirred, and now more vigorously 
than before. The hues of life flushed up with unwonted 
energy into the countenance — the limbs relaxed — and, save 


that the eyelids were yet pressed heavily together, and that 
the bandages and draperies of the grave still imparted 
their charnel character to the figure, I might have dreamed 
that Rowena had indeed shaken off utterly the fetters of 
death. But if this idea was not, even then, altogether 
adopted, I could at least doubt no longer, when, arising 
from the bed, tottering, with feeble steps, with closed 
eyes, and with the manner of one bewildered in a dream, 
the thing that was enshrouded advanced bodily and 
palpably into the middle of the apartment. 

I trembled not — I stirred not — for a crowd of unut- 
terable fancies connected with the air, the stature, the 
demeanor of the figure, rushing hurriedly through my 
brain, had paralyzed — had chilled me into stone. I 
stirred not — but gazed upon the apparition. There was 
a mad disorder in my thoughts — a tumult unappeasable. 
Could it, indeed, be the living Rowena who confronted 
me? Could it indeed be Rowena at all — the fair-haired, 
the blue-eyed Lady Rowena Trevanion of Tremaine? 
Why, why should I doubt it? The bandage lay heavily 
about the mouth — but then might it not be the mouth of 
the breathing Lady of Tremaine? And the cheeks — there 
were the roses as in her noon of life — yes, these might 
indeed be the fair cheeks of the living Lady of Tremaine. 
And the chin, with its dimples, as in health, might it not 
be hers ? — but had she then grown taller since her malady? 
What inexpressible madness seized me with that thought ? 
One bound, and I had reached her feet! Shrinking from 
my touch, she let fall from her head, unloosened, the 
ghastly cerements which had confined it, and there 
streamed forth, into the rushing atmosphere of the cham- 
ber, huge masses of long and dishevelled hair; it was 
blacker than the raven zvings of midnight! And now 
slowly opened the eyes of the figure which stood before 
me. “Here then, at least/' I shrieked aloud, “can I never 
—can I never be mistaken — these are the full, and the 



black, and the wild eyes — of my lost love — of the Lady 
— of the Lady Ligeia.” 


With a feeling of deep yet most singular affection 
I regarded my friend Morelia. Thrown by accident into 
her society many years ago, my soul, from our first meet- 
ing, burned with fires it had never before known; but 
the fires were not of Eros, and bitter and tormenting to 
my spirit was the gradual conviction that I could in no 
manner define their unusual meaning or regulate their 
vague intensity. Yet we met; and fate bound us together 
at the altar ; and I never spoke of passion nor thought of 
love. She, however, shunned society, and, attaching her- 
self to me alone, rendered me happy. It is a happiness 
to wonder; it is a happiness to dream. 

Morelia’s erudition was profound. As I hope to live, 
her talents were of no common order — her powers of 
mind were gigantic. I felt this, and, in many matters, 
became her pupil. I soon, however, found that, perhaps 
on account of her Presburg education, she placed before 
me a number of those mystical writings which are usually 
considered the mere dross of the early German literature. 
These, for what reason I could not imagine, were her 
favorite and constant study — and that in process of time 
they became my own, should be attributed to the simple 
but effectual influence of habit and example. 

In all this, if I err not, my reason had little to do. 
My convictions, or I forgot myself, were in no manner 
acted upon by the ideal, nor was any tincture of the 
mysticism which I read to be discovered, unless I am 
greatly mistaken, either in my deeds or in my thoughts. 
Persuaded of this, I abandoned myself implicitly to the 


guidance of my wife, and entered with an unflinching 
heart into the intricacies of her studies. And then — 
then, when poring over forbidden pages, I felt a for- 
bidden spirit enkindling within me — would Morelia place 
her cold hand upon my own, and rake up from the ashes 
of a dead philosophy some low, singular words, whose 
strange meaning burned themselves in upon my memory. 
And then, hour after hour, would I linger by her side, 
and dwell upon the music of her voice, until at length its 
melody was tainted with terror, and there fell a shadow 
upon my soul, and I grew pale, and shuddered inwardly at 
those unearthly tones. And thus, joy suddenly faded into 
horror, and the most beautiful became the most hideous, 
as Hinnom became Ge-Henna. 

It is unnecessary to state the exact character of those 
disquisitions which, growing out of the volumes I have 
mentioned, formed, for so long a time, almost the sole 
conversation of Morelia and myself. By the learned in 
what might be termed theological morality they will be 
readily conceived, and by the unlearned, they would, at 
all events, be little understood. The wild Pantheism of 
Fichte; the modified TLaWiyyeveaia of Pythagoreans; and 
above all, the doctrines of Identity as urged by Schelling, 
were generally the points of discussion presenting the 
most of beauty to the imaginative Morelia. That identity 
which is termed personal, Mr. Locke, I think, truly defines 
to consist in the sameness of a rational being. And since 
by person we understand an intelligent essence having 
reason, and since there is a consciousness which always 
accompanies thinking, it is this which makes us all to be 
that which we call ourselves , thereby distinguishing us 
from other beings that think, and giving us our personal 
identity. But principium individuationis , the notion of 
that identity which at death is or is not lost forever, was 
to me, at all times, a consideration of intense interest; not 
more from the perplexing and exciting nature of its con- 



sequences, than from the marked and agitated manner in 
which Morelia mentioned them. 

But, indeed, the time had now arrived when the mys- 
tery of my wife’s manner oppressed me as a spell. I 
could no longer bear the touch of her wan fingers, nor 
the low tone of her musical language, nor the luster of 
her melancholy eyes. And she knew all this, but did not 
upbraid; she seemed conscious of my weakness or my 
folly, and, smiling, called it fate. She seemed also con- 
scious of a cause, to me unknown, for the gradual aliena- 
tion of my regard ; but she gave me no hint or token of its 
nature. Yet was she woman, and pined away daily. In 
time the crimson spot settled steadily upon the cheek, 
and the blue veins upon the pale forehead became promi- 
nent ; and one instant my nature melted into pity, but in 
the next I met the glance of her meaning eyes, and then 
my soul sickened and became giddy with the giddiness of 
one who gazes downward into some dreary and un- 
fathomable abyss. 

Shall I then say that I longed with an earnest and 
consuming desire for the moment of Morelia’s decease? 
I did ; but the fragile spirit clung to its tenement of clay 
for many days, for many weeks and irksome months, until 
my tortured nerves obtained the mastery over my mind, 
and I grew furious through delay, and, with the heart 
of a fiend, cursed the days and the hours and the bitter 
moments, which seemed to lengthen and lengthen as 
her gentle life declined, like shadows in the dying of 
the day. 

But one autumnal evening, when the winds lay still 
in heaven, Morelia called me to her bedside. There was 
a dim mist over all the earth, and a warm glow upon the 
waters, and, amid the rich October leaves of the forest, 
a rainbow from the firmament had surely fallen. 

“It is a day of days,” she said, as I approached; “a 
day of all days either to live or die. It is a fair day for 


the sons of earth and life — ah, more fair for the daugh- 
ters of heaven and death !” 

I kissed her forehead, and she continued: 

“ I am dying, yet shall I live. ,, 

“Morelia !” 

“The days have never been when thou couldst love 
me — but her whom in life thou didst abhor, in death 
thou shalt adore.” 

“Morelia !” 

“I repeat that I am dying. But within me is a pledge 
of that affection — ah, how little ! — which thou didst feel 
for me, Morelia. And when my spirit departs shall the 
child live — thy child and mine, Morelia’s. But thy days 
shall be days of sorrow — that sorrow which is the most 
lasting of impressions, as the cypress is the most enduring 
of trees. For the hours of thy happiness are over; and 
joy is not gathered twice in a life, as the roses of Psestum 
twice in a year. Thou shalt no longer, then, play the 
Teian with time, but, being ignorant of the myrtle and the 
vine, thou shalt bear about with thee thy shroud on earth, 
as do the Moslemin at Mecca.” 

“Morelia!” I cried, “Morelia! how knowest thou this?” 
but she turned away her face upon the pillow and a slight 
tremor coming over her limbs, she thus died, and I heard 
her voice no more. 

Yet, as she had foretold, her child, to which in dying 
she had given birth, and which breathed not until the 
mother breathed no more, her child, a daughter, lived. 
And she grew strangely in stature and intellect, and 
was the perfect resemblance of her who had departed, 
and I loved her with a love more fervent than I had be- 
lieved it possible to feel for any denizen of earth. 

But, ere long the heaven of this pure affection be- 
came darkened, and gloom, and horror, and grief, swept 
over it in clouds. I said the child grew strangely in 
stature and intelligence. Strange, indeed, was her rapid 



increase in bodily size, but terrible, oh ! terrible were the 
tumultuous thoughts which crowded upon me while watch- 
ing the development of her mental being. Could it be 
otherwise, when I daily discovered in the conceptions of 
the child the adult powers and faculties of the woman? 
when the lessons of experience fell from the lips of 
infancy? and when the wisdom or the passions of 
maturity I found hourly gleaming from its full and 
speculative eye? When, I say, all this became evident to 
my appalled senses, when I could no longer hide it from 
my soul, nor throw it off from those perceptions which 
trembled to receive it, is it to be wondered at that sus- 
picions, of a nature fearful and exciting, crept in upon my 
spirit, or that my thoughts fell back aghast upon the wild 
tales and thrilling theories of the entombed Morelia? I 
snatched from the scrutiny of the world a being whom 
destiny compelled me to adore, and in the rigorous 
seclusion of my home, watched with an agonizing anxiety 
over all which concerned the beloved. 

And as years rolled away, and I gazed day after day 
upon her holy, and mild, and eloquent face, and poured 
over her maturing form, day after day did I discover 
new points of resemblance in the child to her mother, 
the melancholy and the dead. And hourly grew darker 
these shadows of similitude, and more full, and more 
definite, and more perplexing, and more hideously ter- 
rible in their aspect. For that her smile was like her 
mother's I could bear ; but then I shuddered at its too per- 
fect identity , that her eyes were like Morelia’s I could 
endure; but then they, too, often looked down into the 
depths of my soul with Morelia’s own intense and be- 
wildering meaning. And in the contour of the high fore- 
head, and in the ringlets of the silken hair, and in the wan 
fingers which buried themselves therein, and in the sad 
musical tones of her speech, and above all — oh, above 
all, in the phrases and expressions of the dead on the 


lips of the loved and the living, I found food for con- 
suming thought and horror, for a worm that would 
not die. 

Thus passed away two lustra of her life, and as yet 
my daughter remained nameless upon the earth. “My 
child,” and “my love,” were the designations usually 
prompted by a father's affection, and the rigid seclusion 
of her days precluded all other intercourse. Morelia's 
name died with her at her death. Of the mother I had 
never spoken to the daughter ; it was impossible to speak. 
Indeed, during the brief period of her existence, the 
latter had received no impressions from the outward 
world, save such as might have been afforded by the 
narrow limits of her privacy. But at length the ceremony 
of baptism presented to my mind, in its unnerved and 
agitated condition, a present deliverance from the 
terrors of my destiny. And at the baptismal font I hesi- 
tated for a name. And many titles of the wise and beauti- 
ful, of old and modern times, of my own and foreign 
lands, came thronging to my lips, with many, many fair 
titles of the gentle, and the happy, and the good. What 
prompted me then to disturb the memory of the buried 
dead? What demon urged me to breathe that sound, 
which in its very recollection was wont to make ebb the 
purple blood in torrents from the temples to the heart? 
What fiend spoke from the recesses of my soul, when amid 
those dim aisles, and in the silence of the night, I whis- 
pered within the ears of the holy man the syllables — Mor- 
elia? What more than fiend convulsed the features of my 
child, and overspread them with hues of death, as starting 
at that scarcely audible sound, she turned her glassy eyes 
from the earth to heaven, and falling prostrate on the 
black slabs of our ancestral vault, responded — “I am 
here !” 

Distinct, coldly, calmly distinct, fell those few simple 
sounds within my ear, and thence like molten lead rolled 



hissingly into my brain. Years — years may pass away, 
but the memory of that epoch never ! Nor was I indeed 
ignorant of the flowers and the vine — but the hemlock 
and the cypress overshadowed me night and day. And 
I kept no reckoning of time or place, and the stars of my 
fate faded from heaven, and therefore the earth grew 
dark, and its figures passed by me like flitting shadows, 
and among them all I beheld only— Morelia. The winds 
of the firmament breathed but one sound within my ears, 
and the ripples upon the sea murmured evermore — 
Morelia. But she died; and with my own hands I bore 
her to the tomb; and I laughed with a long and bitter 
laugh as I found no traces of the first in the charnel 
where I laid the second — Morelia. 


Horror and fatality have been stalking abroad in 
all ages. Why then give a date to the story I have to 
tell? Let it suffice to say, that at the period of which I 
speak there existed in the interior of Hungary a settled 
although hidden belief in the doctrines of the Metem- 
psychosis. Of the doctrines themselves — that is, of their 
falsity or of their probability — I say nothing. I assert, 
however, that much of our incredulity (as La Bruyere says 
of all our unhappiness) “vient de ne pouvoir etre seuls ” 

But there were some points in the Hungarian super- 
stition which were fast verging to absurdity. They, the 
Hungarians, differed very essentially from their Eastern 
authorities. For example — “The soul ” said the former — 
I give the words of an acute and intelligent Parisian — 
“ne demeure qu’une seule fois dans un corps sensible. 
Ainsi — un cheval, un chien, un homme meme, ne que la 
ressemblance illusoire des ces etres.” 


The families of Berlifitzing and Metzenger stein had 
been at variance for centuries. Never before were two 
houses so illustrious, mutually embittered by hostility 
so deadly. The origin of this enmity seems to be found 
in the words of an ancient prophecy — “A lofty name shall 
have a fearful fall when, as the rider over his horse, the 
mortality of Metzengerstein shall triumph over the im- 
mortality of Berlifitzing. ,, 

To be sure the words themselves had little or no mean- 
ing. But more trivial causes have given rise — and that 
no long while ago — to consequences equally eventful. 
Besides, the estates, which were contiguous, had long ex- 
ercised a rival influence in the affairs of a busy govern- 
ment. Moreover, near neighbors are seldom friends; 
and the inhabitants of the Castle Berlifitzing might look 
from their lofty buttresses into the very windows of tne 
Palace Metzengerstein. Least of all had the more than 
feudal magnificence thus discovered a tendency to allay 
the irritable feelings of the less ancient and less wealthy 
Berlifitzings. What wonder then, that the words, how- 
ever silly, of that prediction, should have succeeded in 
setting and keeping at variance two families already pre- 
disposed to quarrel by every instigation of hereditary 
jealousy? The prophecy seemed to imply, if it implied 
anything, a final triumph on the part of the already more 
powerful house; and was of course remembered with 
the more bitter animosity by the weaker and less in- 

Wilhelm, Count Berlifitzing, although loftily descended, 
was, at the epoch of this narrative, an infirm and doting 
old man, remarkable for nothing but an inordinate and 
inveterate personal antipathy to the family of his rival, 
and so passionate a love of horses, and of hunting, that 
neither bodily infirmity, great age, nor mental incapacity, 
prevented his daily participation in the dangers of the 



Frederick, Baron Metzengerstein, was, on the other 

hand, not yet of age. His father, the Minister G , 

died young. His mother, the Lady Mary, followed him 
quickly. Frederick was at that time in his eighteenth 
year. In a city eighteen years are no long period: but; 
in a wilderness — in so magnificent a wilderness as that 
old principality — the pendulum vibrates with a deeper 

From some peculiar circumstances attending the ad- 
ministration of his father, the young Baron, at the decease 
of the former, entered immediately upon his vast posses- 
sions. Such estates were seldom held before by a noble- 
man of Hungary. His castles were without number. 
The chief in point of splendor and extent was the “Palace 
Metzengerstein/' The boundary line of his dominions 
was never clearly defined, but his principal park embraced 
a circuit of fifty miles. 

Upon the succession of a proprietor so young, with a 
character so well known, to a fortune so unparalleled, 
little speculation was afloat in regard to his probable 
course of conduct. And indeed for the space of three 
days, the behavior of the heir out-Heroded Herod, and 
fairly surpassed the expectations of his most enthusiastic 
admirers. Shameful debaucheries — flagrant treacheries — 
unheard-of atrocities — gave his trembling vassals quickly 
to understand that no servile submission on their part — 
no punctilios of conscience on his own — were thence- 
forward to prove any security against the remorseless 
fangs of a petty Caligula. On the night of the fourth day, 
the stables of the Castle Berlifitzing were discovered to 
be on fire; and the unanimous opinion of the neighbor- 
hood added the crime of the incendiary to the already 
hideous list of the Baron's misdemeanors and enormities. 

But during the tumult occasioned by this occurrence, 
the young nobleman himself sat, apparently buried in 
meditation, in a vast and desolate upper apartment of 


the family palace of Metzengerstein. The rich although 
faded tapestry hangings which swung gloomily upon the 
walls, represented the shadowy and majestic fqrms of a 
thousand illustrious ancestors. Here, rich-ermined priests 
and pontifical dignitaries, familiarly seated with the auto- 
crat and the sovereign, put a veto on the wishes of a 
temporal king, or restrained with the fiat of papal suprem- 
acy the rebellious scepter of the Arch-enemy. There, 
the dark tall statures of the Prince Metzengerstein — 
their muscular war-coursers plunging over the carcases 
of fallen foes — startled the steadiest nerves with their 
vigorous expression; and here again, the voluptuous and 
swan-like figures of the dames of days gone by floated 
away in the mazes of an unreal dance to the strains of 
imaginary melody. 

But as the Baron listened or affected to listen to the 
gradually increasing uproar in the stables of Berlifit- 
zing — or perhaps pondered upon some more novel, some 
more decided act of audacity — his eyes were turned un- 
wittingly to the figure of an enormous and unnaturally 
colored horse, represented in the tapestry as belonging 
to a Saracen ancestor of the family of his rival. The 
horse itself, in the foreground of the design, stood motion- 
less and statue-like — while farther back, its discomfited 
rider perished by the dagger of a Metzengerstein. 

On Frederick’s lip arose a fiendish expression as he 
became aware of the direction which his glance had, 
without his consciousness, assumed. Yet he did not 
remove it. On the contrary, he could by no means ac- 
count for the overwhelming anxiety which appeared fall- 
ing like a pall upon his senses. It was with difficulty that 
he reconciled his dreamy and incoherent feelings with 
the certainty of being awake. The longer he gazed the 
more absorbing became the spell — the more impossible 
did it appear that he could ever withdraw his glance from 
the facination of that tapestry. But the tumult without 



becoming suddenly more violent, with a compulsory ex- 
ertion he diverted his attention to the glare of ruddy light 
thrown full by the flaming stables upon the windows of 
the apartment. 

The action, however, was but momentary; his gaze 
returned mechanically to the wall. To his extreme 
horror and astonishment the head of the gigantic steed 
had in the meantime altered its position. The neck of 
the animal, before arched, as if in compassion, over the 
prostrate body of its lord, was now extended at full 
length in the direction of the Baron. The eyes, before 
invisible, now wore an energetic and human expression, 
while they gleamed with a fiery and unusual red; and 
the distended lips of the apparently enraged horse left 
in full view his sepulchral and disgusting teeth. 

Stupefied with terror the young nobleman tottered 
to the door. As he threw it open a flash of red light, 
streaming far into the chamber, flung his shadow with 
a clear outline against the quivering tapestry; and he 
shuddered to perceive that shadow — as he staggered 
awhile upon the threshold — assuming the exact posi- 
tion, and precisely filling up the contour of the relentless 
and triumphant murderer of the Saracen Berlifitzing. 

To lighten the depression of his spirits the Baron 
hurried into the open air. At the principal gate of the 
palace he encountered three equerries. With much diffi- 
culty, and at the imminent peril of their lives, they were 
restraining the convulsive plunges of a gigantic and fiery- 
colored horse. 

“Whose horse? Where did you get him?” demanded 
the youth in a querulous and husky tone, as he became 
instantly aware that the mysterious steed in the tapestried 
chamber was the very counterpart of the furious animal 
before his eyes. 

“He is your own property, sire,” replied one of the 
equerries, “at least he is claimed by no other owner. We 


caught him flying, all smoking and foaming with rage, 
from the burning stables of the Castle Berlifitzing. Sup- 
posing him to have belonged to the old Count's stud of 
foreign horses we led him back as an estray. But the 
grooms there disclaim any title to the creature, wdiich 
is strange, since he bears evident marks of having made 
a narrow escape from the flames.” 

‘The letters W. V. B. are also branded very distinctly 
on his forehead,” interrupted a second equerry; “I sup- 
posed them of course to be the initials of Wilhelm Von 
Berlifitzing — but all at the castle are positive in denying 
any knowledge of the horse.” 

“Extremely singular !” said the young Baron with 
a musing air, and apparently unconscious of the mean- 
ing of his words. “He is as you say a remarkable horse — 
a prodigious horse! although, as you very justly observe, 
of a suspicious and untractable character ; let him be mine, 
however,” he added, after a pause, “perhaps a rider like 
Frederick of Metzenger stein may tame even the devil 
from the stables of Berlifitzing.” 

“You are mistaken, my lord; the horse, as I think we 
mentioned, is not from the stables of the Count. If 
such had been the case, we know our duty better than to 
bring him into the presence of a noble of your family.” 
“True!” observed the Baron, dryly; and at that in- 
stant a page of the bedchamber came from the palace 
with a heightened color and a precipitate step. He 
whispered into his master's ear an account of the sudden 
disappearance of a small portion of the tapestry in an 
apartment which he designated, entering at the same time 
into particulars of a minute and circumstantial character ; 
but from the low tone of voice in which these latter were 
communicated, nothing escaped to gratify the excited 
curiosity of the equerries. 

The young Frederick during the conference seemed 
agitated by a variety of emotions. He soon, however. 



recovered his composure, and an expression of determined 
malignancy settled upon his countenance as he gave per- 
emptory orders that the apartment in question should be 
immediately locked up, and the key placed in his own 

“Have you heard of the unhappy death of the old 
hunter Berlifitzing ?” said one of his vassals to the Baron, 
as, after the departure of the page, the huge steed which 
that nobleman had adopted as his own plunged and 
curvetted with redoubled fury down the long avenue 
which extended from the palace to the stables of Metzen- 

“No!” said the Baron turning abruptly towards the 
speaker ; “dead ! say you ?'” 

“It is indeed true, my lord ; and, to the noble of your 
name, will be, I imagine, no unwelcome intelligence.” 

A rapid smile shot over the countenance of the lis- 
tener. “How died he?” 

“In his rash exertions to rescue a favorite portion 
of his hunting stud, he has himself perished miserably 
in the flames.” 

“I — n — d — e — e — d — !” ejaculated the Baron, as if 
slowly and deliberately impressed with the truth of some 
exciting idea. 

“Indeed;” repeated the vassal. 

“Shocking !” said the youth calmly, and turned quietly 
into the palace. 

From this date a marked alteration took place in the 
outward demeanor of the dissolute young Baron Fred- 
erick Von Metzengerstein. Indeed, his behavior disap- 
pointed every expectation, and proved little in accordance 
with the views of many a maneuvering mamma; while 
his habits and manners, still less than formerly, offered 
anything congenial with those of the neighboring aris- 
tocracy. He was never to be seen beyond the limits of 
his own domain, and in this wide and social world was 


utterly companionless — unless indeed that unnatural, im- 
petuous, and fiery-colored horse, which he henceforward 
continually bestrode, had any mysterious right to the 
title of his friend. 

Numerous invitations on the part of the neighbor- 
hood for a long time, however, periodically came in. 
“Will the Baron honor our festivals with his presence ?” 
“Will the Baron join us in a hunting of the boar?” — 
“Metzenger stein does not hunt;” “Metzengerstein will 
not attend,” were the haughty and laconic answers. 

These repeated insults were not to be endured by an 
imperious nobility. Such invitations became less cordial, 
less frequent; in time they ceased altogether. The widow 
of the unfortunate Count Berlifitzing was even heard to 
express a hope “that the Baron might be at home when 
he did not wish to be at home, since he disdained the 
company of his equals ; and ride when he did not wish to 
ride, since he preferred the society of a horse.” This 
to be sure was a very silly explosion of hereditary pique, 
and merely proved how singularly unmeaning our say- 
ings are apt to become when we desire to be unusually 

Indeed the Baron’s perverse attachment to his lately- 
acquired charger — an attachment which seemed to attain 
new strength from every fresh example of the animal’s 
ferocious and demon-like propensities — at length became, 
in the eyes of all reasonable men, a hideous and un- 
natural fervor. In the glare of noon — at the dead hour 
of night — in sickness or in health — in calm or in tempest 
— the young Metzengerstein seemed riveted to the saddle 
of that colossal horse, whose intractable audacities so 
well accorded with his own spirit. 

There were circumstances, moreover, which, coupled 
with late events, gave an unearthly and portentous 
character to the mania of the rider, and to the capa- 
bilities of the steed. The space passed over in a single 



leap had been accurately measured, and was found to 
exceed, by an astounding difference, the wildest ex- 
pectations of the most imaginative. The Baron, besides, 
had no particular name for the animal, although all the 
rest in his collection were distinguished by characteristic 
appellations. His stable, too, was appointed at a distance 
from the rest; and with regard to grooming and other 
necessary offices, none but the owner in person had ven- 
tured to officiate, or even to enter the enclosure of that 
horse's particular stall. It was also to be observed, that al- 
though the three grooms, who had caught the steed as he 
fled from the conflagration at Berlifitzing, had succeeded 
in arresting his course by means of a chain-bridle and 
noose — yet no one of the three could with any certainty 
affirm that he had, during that dangerous struggle, or at 
any period thereafter, actually placed his hand upon the 
body of the beast. Instances of peculiar intelligence in the 
demeanor of a noble and high-spirited horse are not to 
be supposed capable of exciting unreasonable attention, 
but there were certain circumstances which intruded 
themselves perforce upon the most skeptical and phleg- 
matic; and it is said there were times when the animal 
caused the gaping crowd who stood around to recoil in 
horror from the deep and impressive meaning of his 
terrible stamp — times when the young Metzengerstein 
turned pale and shrunk away from the rapid and search- 
ing expressions of his earnest and human-looking eye. 

One tempestuous night Metzengerstein, awaking from 
heavy slumber, descended like a maniac from his chamber, 
and mounting in hot haste, bounded away into the mazes 
of the forest. An occurrence so common attracted no 
particular attention, but his return was looked for with 
intense anxiety on the part of his domestics, when, after 
some hours' absence, the stupenduous and magnificent 
battlements of the Palace Metzengerstein were discovered 
crackling and rocking to their very foundation under the 


influence of a dense and livid mass of ungovernable fire. 

As the flames, when first seen, had already made so 
terrible a progress that all efforts to save any portion of 
the building were evidently futile, the astonished neighbor- 
hood stood idly round in silent, if not apathetic wonder. 
But a new and fearful object soon riveted the attention 
of the multitude, and proved how much more intense is 
the excitement wrought in the feelings of a crowd by the 
contemplation of human agony than that brought about 
by the most appalling spectacles of inanimate matter. 

Upon the long avenue of aged oaks which led from the 
forest to the main entrance of the Palace Metzenger stein, 
a steed, bearing an unbonneted and disordered rider, was 
seen leaping with an impetuosity which outstripped the 
very Demon of the Tempest. 

The career of the horseman was indisputably, on his 
own part, uncontrollable. The agony of his counte- 
nance, the convulsive struggle of his frame, gave evi- 
dence of superhuman exertion: but no sound, save a 
solitary shriek, escaped from his lacerated lips, which 
were bitten through and through in the intensity of terror. 
One instant, and the clattering of hoofs resounded sharply 
and shrilly above the roaring of the flames and the shriek- 
ing of the winds — another, and, clearing at a single plunge 
the gateway and the moat, the steed bounded far up the 
tottering staircases of the palace, and, with its rider, dis- 
appeared amid the whirlwind of chaotic fire. 

The fury of the tempest immediately died away, and 
a dead calm sullenly succeeded. A white flame still 
enveloped the building like a shroud, and, streaming far 
away into the quiet atmosphere, shot forth a glare of 
preternatural light ; while a cloud of smoke settled heavily 
over the battlements in the distinct colossal figure of — 
a horse.